More Good Days for More Kids

New volunteer Sonny & "old-timer" Steve-O prep the PB&J's

For a girl named Barney, it was the chickens. We stood in a circle, each sharing the highs and lows of our ride in Wilder Ranch State Park, the highs ranged from the horses to the chickens to skidding out on the dirt. More than one participant claimed the upcoming climb out of Wilder as their low. No one complained of crashing or being stuck in the sand, even though those were challenges for many.

This November Trips for Kids Santa Cruz had one of its larger groups for its monthly ride. Participants from Watsonville Police Activities League , and CASA of Santa Cruz County shared the ride with  our regular participant, Steve-O. We also had two new volunteers join us, as well. Looks like our organization is growing at a healthy pace, and we’re happy to be connecting adults who love to ride with kids who just may need some fun in the fresh air, on two wheels.

It was a good day.  And we’re going to make more of them.
More good days for more kids and more volunteers. Bringing the Santa Cruz County community together. Two wheels rolling round and round.  May the cycle of growth continue. Let us always share the stoke.


Take a Kid Mountain Biking, Would Ya’?

On Saturday October 1, Trips for Kids Santa Cruz participated in Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. Four participants from Tyler House, along with their supervisor, Crystal, joined us for a day of skills practice, a group ride, and a fruitful raffle.

Thanks again, Dave, for assisting with transportation to Monterey from Aptos. As usual, it’s both a useful and fun part of our rides.

There was an “easy ride”, around the large parking lot and roads within Toro Park. The “advanced ride” was a four mile narrow single track and fire road climb. The participants were challenged, but never complained, and seemed to enjoy the event. One youth summed up the challenges on the downhill single track: sketchy. Our ride leader rode behind him and was impressed with his control. The youth mentioned that he has experience riding BMX and MX. Hmmmm…let’s get this kid out for more rides!

At noon we were treated to a free BBQ of veggie burgers and hot dogs. A free raffle commenced  and everyone came home a winner. Our group of participants took home four new helmets. What a great day!

Everyone had a great time. Crystal appreciated that it was a free event. Like many organizations that help youth, Tyler House has experienced funding cuts. Trips for Kids Santa Cruz is proud to be a cost effective activity for organizations who care for and guide youth. Some will ride on; others will take with them a great memory. Little by little, we are changing a small part of our world.


Lou without Oopty

Steve-O, Dawn & JohnJohn and I sat in the front of the truck, marveling at the signatures at the bottom of each of this kid’s text messages. When making arrangements with kids to take them riding, texting is part of the game.

As we waited for Steve-O to return home with his Burger King breakfast (a food choice he later regretted on the ride), we tried to figure out what all these codes meant. John had about five texts with this mystery language, and we were stupefied. Once Steve-O arrived, we asked for translation. Seems John was receiving inside information, terms Steve-O has developed with his friends, and now John is part of that circle.

I cannot remember what lou without oopty means, but I do remember the significance of the conversation. Riding to and from trail heads is when you really get to know the kids. We got to know a lot about Steve-O that day.

I’m not going to share what he shared, I’m just going to say that he shared a lot. And we had a great ride, too.

As we go on these rides, and these kids open up, the opportunity to support positive life choices or just give them a place to vent their frustrations is apparent.

At-risk youth are under a lot of stress. Family, peers, the justice system, violence, self-doubt, confusion, and identity formation all play a role.

This kid looks forward to the rides. He always shows up.  He’s a great rider, too.

We get to promote a healthy hobby AND support these kids through transitions. What a beautiful thing that is.

Photo Essay: Lessons in Taking Teens Mountain Biking

The Crew1. When recruiting kids, count on a 2/5 show-up rate. We invited 8, had five confirm the night before, and two get to us. These two lucky kids got tons of attention. We all had fun riding lower Nisene Marks.

2. Notice the pink heart? That’s covering a hand gesture. I don’t know if it’s a gang sign, but sure looked like one. And I’m standing right next to him. Nice – keep your eyes on the kids as well as the camera!

3. Arrange for good transportation. Shuttle Smith Adventures has an awesome set up for the bikes and the passengers. Bikes secured? Check. Passengers buckled up? Check. In-transit entertainment by Dave? Check. Thanks for sponsoring us, Dave of Shuttle Smith. We had a great ride over to the park.

4. Bring lots of water and pick a nice place to chill during the ride. Our trooper over there needed a small break – sometimes these darn kids don’t go to bed early on a Friday night. Who knew?

5. Bring some snack money along, especially if you are near Nisene Marks. We had some very delicious Corralitos Market Cheesy Bavarians on buns. Maybe that’ll get the kids out of bed next time!



Sometimes It’s the Bike that Saves You

Volunteers Mark and Dwight get our first participant's bike ready

By Dawn Weathersbee, T4KSC Board Secretary

He wouldn’t let me take a picture of him. It’s probably all for the best, because my photography could never have captured the excitement he expressed after his first Trips for Kids Santa Cruz ride. It’s an amazing and sad thing to hear a kid say, “Next Sunday, right?” when the next Sunday is on a  holiday weekend and we are not hosting a ride.

The juvenile justice system brought him to us, and we hope it will leave him with us. This 16 year-old kid in his fancy new shoes, openly telling us about his jaded past, and wanting to ride a bike, stole my heart. These kids always do.

I have known kids throughout my lifetime of working with youth who just wanted an adult to listen to them without judgement. I know they did, because they often told me their stories unprompted. I feel blessed to have been able to guide them when they would listen. I have known women through my 20+ years of cycling that claim to have been saved by the sport. Cycling has gotten people through divorces, lay-offs and other traumatic loss. I myself have ridden my way through painful break-ups and other life transitions. You gotta’ admit, it’s healthier than drugs or alcohol when you’re healing from a psychic wound.

For me, the bike has been the gateway  to health, fun, and friendship. It brings its own rewards. And the friends I’ve made from pursuing the sport continue to shape my life positively, including leading to my present job.

I want to continue to reap these benefits and pass them on. I want to teach kids who work out their issues through crime, drugs and violence that there’s another way.

It’s going to take adults to lead the way. Trips for Kids Santa Cruz has gotten the bikes, helmets, and water bottles. We will continue to find the at-risk youth. It’s up to the community to pitch in, and show up to get the kids out of the system and onto the bike.


Pics of Our First Volunteer Day

Trips for Kids Santa Cruz had it’s first volunteer day on June 12, 2011.

Take a look at a few of the photos of our first volunteer day. We built a bike locker, built bikes, had a leadership training, and had some fun with the Bike Shack Bikes!