IMAGE: Phoenix Middle School seventh graders enjoyed the third Youth Frontiers Courage Retreat held at the school Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017.

Phoenix Middle School seventh graders enjoyed the third Youth Frontiers Courage Retreat held at the school Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. CLICK PIC for more images in our gallery.

Youth Frontiers LogoDELAVAN – To help build a more respectful school culture, Youth Frontiers, the leading character education organization in the Upper Midwest, presented its third courage retreat program at Delavan-Darien’s Phoenix Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 29, to a group of eager seventh graders.

Youth Frontiers delivers programs that build positive school communities and strengthen student character.

Founded in 1987, Youth Frontiers’ dynamic retreats inspire students to live out the values of kindness, courage, respect and responsibility in their personal and school lives. Youth Frontiers aims to change the way kids treat each other in every hallway, lunch line and classroom of every school in America. The nationally renowned nonprofit holds hundreds of retreats for tens-of-thousands of students and educators across the country. Since its inception, Youth Frontiers has reached more than 1.4 million through their character development programs.

“It’s a very powerful program,” said Phoenix Principal Hank Schmelz. “I’ve used it before when I worked in Madison and there are a lot of great benefits. We’ve had tremendous success with it the last two years here at Phoenix, and this year was no different.”

The courage program for the seventh graders focuses on bullying and improving the school climate, Schmelz said.

“It really helps shift the climate to that of kindness and being brave enough to not bully and to accept people for who they really are,” Schmelz said, noting that the seventh grade year is when middle schools across the country start to see a rise in bullying instances.

“It’s a continuing thing that middle schools all over have constantly struggled with for this age group,” Schmelz added. “We want to teach them how to be kind to each other and this program offers a powerful way for them to learn the impact of hurtful words and actions.”

Youth Frontiers offers engaging, high-energy retreats for schools using games, music, small-group discussions and inspiring stories that engage students’ hearts and break down walls between young people. Throughout the retreat day, students begin to exhibit traits of true character – mending relationships, stating acts of courage and respecting themselves and others. Comprehensive follow-up materials also provide a way for educators and students to extend the impact of the retreat.

DDHS student volunteers assist the three Youth Frontiers facilitators, and bring the ideas they learned at the middle school back to DDHS and hopefully improve the climate there.

“I want everyone attending to get something worthwhile and long-lasting from this retreat,” Schmelz said.

About Youth Frontiers

Founded in 1987, Youth Frontiers ( partners with schools to build positive communities where students thrive socially, emotionally and academically. Based in the Twin Cities, the nonpartisan organization is funded through a partnership between schools and private foundations, corporations and individuals. Dedicated to building the character of young people, Youth Frontiers also provides online resources for parents to help foster their children’s positive peer interactions.

For information about Youth Frontiers and its retreats, contact Ali Sipkins, Director of External Relations, at 952.697.2660 or Media may contact Jessica Larson, Communications and Marketing Manager, at 952.697.2669 or


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