Adventure Central

Adventure Central is a trusted, community-based, positive youth development partnership of 4-H, Ohio State University Extension, and Five Rivers MetroParks. The partnership has been serving at-risk children and their parents in urban Dayton, Ohio since 2000 by providing educational programs outside of school hours. Adventure Central places a priority on high-intensity programming (four days a week throughout the school year). The after-school program is the primary programmatic effort for this dynamic youth education center, serving an average of 85 youth per day.

The program is guided by a framework that incorporates the features of positive developmental settings, essential elements, and the six Cs – competence, confidence, character, caring, connection, and contribution. As a result, participants gain strengthened values, lasting life skills, and both an eagerness and confidence to explore life’s possibilities and the natural world.

Using nature as a focus, staff nurtures families in life-changing activities that strengthen values, build lasting life skills, and empower youth to explore life’s possibilities. Adventure Central provides youth with both structured and unstructured opportunities to connect with nature. Youth engage with nature through learner-directed inquiry activities and spend at least one hour each day in free play in a safe, accessible natural area. These experiences strongly influence childhood development and offer children irreplaceable opportunities for exploring and discovering, for creating and developing their personalities and identities, and for probing and testing the margins of their world.

Program staff members have devoted considerable attention to continually assess the environmental factors related to successful after-school outcomes and make adjustments as appropriate. A study on the outcomes of long-term participation as well as previous research at Adventure Central has documented the existence of positive youth-staff relationships, a sense of belonging, and mastery of skills, demonstrating that the essential elements are present to facilitate outcomes of learning and development.

For more information on the Adventure Central after-school program go to or contact Director Nate Arnett at .