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Adventure a reward for director

August 07, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - When Eric Valentine saw the Cedar Ridge Adventures site last fall, he knew he wanted to be involved in it.

"I toured with a group," Valentine said. And he liked what he saw.

Things fell into place after that and Valentine was hired as director in January.

"I've worked all kinds of jobs, but this is great," Valentine said. "This is my reward for patience and persistence."

As early as 1982, Cedar Ridge Children's Home and School near Williamsport began to incorporate adventure-based programming into the recreational and educational aspects of resident and student lives.

A small challenge course was built by Cedar Ridge staff in a section of woods previously reserved as a cattle pasture.

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Then in 1987, Cedar Ridge Ministries added the Adventures program as the fifth department to the growing agency. Later that year, training was scheduled and, within a year, the Adventures department had a 12-element challenge course, staffed with trained facilitators and open to the public.

"It started as an additional resource for the Cedar Ridge boys and now we've opened it up," Valentine said.

Corporations, Scout groups, schools, churches and others use the site, with Cedar Ridge providing the facilitators - there are 18 part-timers who are paid by the hour.

A native of State College, Pa., Valentine, 32, was an English major at Penn State University, where he prepared to be an educator.

Valentine said adventure activities always were his avocation. And then this came along.

"I always had another job to support my family," he said. Valentine and his wife, Karen, have five children.

Valentine said there are outside activities of all kinds and all skill levels, which are in use all year, weather- permitting.

Two groups were scheduled the week of July 27 and a group from Hancock will be coming in soon, he said. And the residents of Cedar Ridge have been using it once a week for the summer recreation program.

When groups come in, they learn what to expect. The staff works on stretching them mentally and physically, and then moves into safety techniques.

Safety equipment is provided by Cedar Ridge Adventures.

"We have cabins that can sleep 36 people, and indoor dining," Valentine said. The fees that outside groups pay to use the facilities help pay for the program for all.

The boys who live at Cedar Ridge are often troubled youths who have had problems with trust and low self-esteem, Valentine said.

"They have no concept of 'team,' which is what we teach here," he said.

Cedar Ridge Director Dave Swacina said Cedar Ridge Adventures is an integral part of the ministries.

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