By Dave Granger and Matt Dexheimer for the Big Sky Weekly

Bozeman kids Kade Hanson and Liz Burkhart, both 18-yearold
graduates of Big Sky Youth Empowerment, are stepping
it up this summer. Hanson just returned from a life-changing
25 day service project in Ghana, and Burkhart is on a 22-day
Outward Bound sailing and service trip off the coast of Maine.

This is the Crux, BYEP’s next step.

For the last decade BYEP has positively affected hundreds of
at-risk youth from Belgrade, Big Sky and Bozeman. Historically,
the programs served eighth through 10th grade students
with an adventure-based mentoring program called the Approach.

This fall, BYEP is launching the Crux, a dynamic second tier to
support high school juniors and seniors. Hanson and Burkhart
got a head start.

The goal of BYEP is to teach students to live productive, independent
lives with positive options for the future. As a reult of
feedback from youth participants, mentors, board members and
the greater community, “the crux” metaphorically represents
the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The program will cement changes achieved during the Approach
by helping students develop skills to be autonomous,
engaged citizens. The curriculum is built upon four core pillars:

• Academics (increased GPA, increased school attendance,
and graduation from high school)

• Character education (continued focus on integrity, responsibility
and accountability)

• Life skills (money management, employment and independent
living)

• Stewardship (to self, community and Earth).

The Crux will meet weekly at MSU, and every other weekend
for activities incorporating one of the four pillars. Additional
Crux partners include Outward Bound, NOLS and VISIONS
Service Adventures; students like Hanson and Burkhart will apply
to earn a scholarship to one of these organizations.

Dave Granger is Program Director at BYEP. Matt Dexheimer,
Program Director of the Crux, completed his Master’s in counseling
education at MSU and has extensive experience working with atrisk
youth. Want to make a difference? Volunteer with BYEP.
(406)
599-6090 or byep.org.