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Local program spreading excitement
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Some days waking up and going to work can be a chore.

Those mornings, when the alarm goes off and the only thought running through my mind is that I can't wait to climb back into bed for the next night's sleep, are scary - it's a fairly reliable sign that the day is not going to be too great.

A day like that is a true test of how much you love your job or vice versa.

Last week, I had a day like that. I had four back-to-back meetings scheduled, beginning at 8:30 a.m. - I know to most of you that doesn't sound like too early of a start but for me 8:30 might as well be 5:30 a.m.

The fourth meeting was a field trip of sorts. Because of the sleep still in the corner of my eyes and my visible lack of caffeine, I'm sure I looked as enthusiastic as I felt when I arrived at Project Adventure Kids in Covington.

First of all, I parked about a million miles away from where I was supposed to park - my field trip companions were not too terribly excited about the walk - but soon we all forgot our qualms with the day and our relatively bad moods were transformed.

It's not a stretch to say that the folks at Project Adventure love their jobs. The excitement they exude about the program they have going on out there is contagious.

After sitting with several PA staff members for more than an hour, my appreciation for what they do in our community outweighed my lack of sleep and caffeine.

Cindy Simpson, director, and Aaron Nicholson, assistant director, have such a visible passion for the youth they guide through life that those around them seem to beam with left over excitement - that's not a slight but a testament to the energy of Project Adventure.

Before I get even more ahead of myself, PA, for those of you who don't know, is a residential program for displaced and homeless Georgia youth that incorporates adventure, academics and counseling in a structured group environment.

The folks at Project Adventure work to prepare children for life after the program - to ensure that all participants have a shot at achieving a productive adulthood.

Project Adventure provides children with housing, food, clothing, educational services, medical services, counseling services and recreational activities - all of that along with the life training programs.

I really got the feeling that the staff sees each and every child as their own. It didn't take long for Simpson and Nicholson to begin spouting off success stories like proud parents.

It was amazing to listen as they shared the interests of various children almost as if I were listening to a mom and dad having a conversation about their family.

As of 2006, Project Adventure had worked with 942 kids at its 130 acre facility in Covington - the number has definitely continued to grow.

Project Adventure has created a home that most of these children would never have experienced otherwise and given opportunities to kids, whom most would have turned away.

A place like Project Adventure doesn't operate on its own. A dedicated staff and support network is needed to run a facility that does all PA does. Volunteering time and money to PA will ensure that such a program stays put for years to come.

PA offers myriad opportunities for the public to get involved, and the staff would most likely be more than happy to take in as many volunteers as are willing to work.

I look forward to being more involved in the weeks and months to come with the programs at Project Adventure, and I encourage you to at least check out what they have going on at PA. For more information about the program, visit the Project Adventure Web site at

Robby Byrd is the editor of The Covington News. He may be reached by e-mail at