FUSION helps teens find self-sufficiency, adventure in the great outdoors

Local nonprofit partners with Peak 7 Adventures for multi-day hiking trip.

For most of the teens voyaging into the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest, the mid-July hiking trip with FUSION and Peak 7 Adventures is their first time exploring beyond pavement.

Peak 7 Adventures is a faith-based Washington nonprofit centered on providing outdoor experiences for under-resourced kids and young people. In this first-time partnership with FUSION Transitional Housing, the nonprofit is helping advance FUSION’s mission of helping people reach self-sufficiency, said FUSION Executive Director David Harrison.

While FUSION has dozens of programs and activities for younger children, Harrison noticed a lack of adventure and fun for the teen-aged group.

“So many of the clients that we serve, their kids have never been camping, “ Harrison said.

Led by Harrison and two professional Peak 7 guides, the group of teens range from 13 to 18 years old and are assisted by the Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center, FUSION transitional housing, or the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

“I’m excited for the kids to have this type of experience,” said Harrison, who grew up backpacking, boating, hiking and enjoying many other outdoor activities. “This is part of our mission — even if families are in transition, we’re making sure the kids are having the type of experiences they should have in the summer.”

The four-day, three-night hiking trip leads the group to Lake Quinault near Enchanted Valley on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, setting up a base camp before embarking on several day hikes throughout the week. On the final night, the group returns to the Peak 7 headquarters in Enumclaw for a bonfire and a stay in the cabins before heading home.

Peak 7 offers backpacking, mountaineering, rafting, climbing, stand-up paddle boarding and snowshoeing adventures, in addition to several courses such as wilderness medicine or rock climbing instruction.

Recognizing that “many people do not see themselves as belonging in the wilderness or do not have the ability to safely access these areas,” Peak 7 is committed to creating space in the outdoors where people from marginalized communities belong and are welcome, according to their website.

This trip could be the spark to an ongoing outdoors program offered through FUSION, hopefully growing to include white water rafting, rock climbing and other excursions, Harrison said

“I think there’s a good connection between a healthy mind and understanding what self sufficiency is by being out there in the woods,” he said. “It’s the self-reliance. When you’re in the woods, everything you’re going to need in the next few days, you carried in your pack and you made it happen … it’s a chance to have that adventure and find that sense of self.”