By Jenny Sandbo, Y.E.T.I. Volunteer
Dalton Rockwell teaches Physical Education at Cascade View Elementary School in Tukwila, WA. He cares about the health and well-being of his students and wants to help them enjoy more time outdoors.
In the winter of 2019-2020, while he was still working as a history teacher at the high school, Dalton started looking for an organization that could support his goal of getting kids outside. He found the Y.E.T.I. website and contacted them.
Dalton decided to volunteer. It was a way for him to check out what Y.E.T.I. had to offer before organizing a trip for the kids. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut-downs happened, Dalton’s plan was put on hold.
Dalton moved to the elementary school. When pandemic restrictions eased, he got back to volunteering with YETI and made a new plan to get his 5th graders outside. He started an after school outdoor club. With support from Y.E.T.I., he has been taking kids on local park adventures every Wednesday since February 2023.
“They have the best time! Awesome to see. It’s what you want!” says Dalton.
They explore the beach at Seahurst Park, boulder at SeaTac Park, and go fishing at Angle Lake. But Dalton says his student’s favorite thing to do is climb on the play structures and just hang out together. The ability to talk, play, and socialize outside the restrictions of school gives them a feeling of freedom and ease.
Y.E.T.I. makes these mini-adventures possible by providing logistics, a van, and adult supervision. Dalton and Y.E.T.I. try to remove impediments and make it simple for kids to participate. There is no cost to students and extra effort is put into providing access to parent permission forms.
An obstacle for these trips is the capacity of the van – it holds 9-11 students and 2 chaperones. Lots of kids want to go, so Dalton rotates groups of students to give equal access. He wishes they had transportation to accommodate everyone. With more capacity in staff and equipment, Y.E.T.I. could serve many more kids in the south Seattle area.
Now that the weather is warming and the days are longer, Dalton is looking forward to introducing the kids to more dynamic activities like mountain biking and rock climbing. Having access to Y.E.T.I.’s equipment locker and trained guides will make this possible!
Dalton hopes that these outdoor experiences will inspire kids to look for adventures on their own, even if it’s just a trip to their local playground.
Youth Experiential Training Institute (Y.E.T.I.) helped connect Dalton’s students with outdoor experiences they couldn’t access on their own. Through the generosity of our donors and partners, YETI provides essential gear like boots, snowshoes, and mountain bikes, along with trained guides, to get kids into nature equitably, safely, and have a great time.
View more student stories at The GRIT.