The Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure and Mentoring program is working to raise money so it can take some of the children it mentors on a trip outside of Vermont to expand their horizons.
DREAM members kicked off fundraising efforts for the High Adventure program by selling grilled cheese sandwiches Saturday night on the lawn of Zeta Psi fraternity.
Organized several years ago, DREAM’s High Adventure program funds a one to two week trip for about 15 children and mentors to anywhere in the country. Groups in two previous trips organized by Dartmouth students have traveled to California and Colorado.
“All the children in DREAM are from affordable housing communities in Vermont, and many of them never consider the world beyond Vermont,” said Brittany Beth ’06, one of the program’s organizers. “Through this program, they participate in the fundraising and planning of their trip over the course of the year, so it’s a hugely empowering experience for them.”
Inspired by the trip to Alaska that the University of Vermont DREAM chapter organized last summer, several Dartmouth DREAM members decided to organize another High Adventure program after a few years of not holding a trip.
Planning of the program is still in its early stages with the first round of meetings with parents of mentored children to take place this week. Although children can be mentored in the DREAM program starting at age four, the High Adventure program is only offered to students who are at least 11 years old. Fifteen children in DREAM are currently eligible for the trip that will take place in the early summer.
Although mentors will help lead the discussion of trip locations, the trip destination is ultimately up to the children.
“We basically put a map in front of them,” Beth said.
Saturday’s fundraiser was organized in order to capitalize on the Homecoming traffic on frat row, Beth said. The event raised about $600 dollars.
All future fundraising, however, will be organized by the children involved in the program. Ideas for fundraisers include raffles at hockey games, dinner events held at fraternities or sororities and bake sales.
“A lot of the fundraising is going to have to be at Dartmouth, so the kids will be around,” Beth said. “It’ll be more exciting for them if they have a lot of people who know about the program and are interested.”
DREAM organizers plan to hold about two major fundraisers a month and hope to raise between $12,000 and $16,000 to completely fund the trip for both the children and mentors.
Organizers praised the program as more than just a vacation or an opportunity to see a part of the country outside of Vermont.
“It’s a lot of teamwork and self empowering,” John Cyr ’06 said. “It’s having a vision and attaining it for them.”
DREAM, a nonprofit mentoring program that was founded in 1999 by Dartmouth students, has now spread to several other New England college campuses. The program pairs college students and children living in subsidized housing developments in Vermont for weekly activities.