AKP and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago Explore the Travel Industry and the American West

In 2021, A&K Philanthropy has looked to become more involved in helping local communities in the US, in addition to those communities we support around the world. It was from this desire to help locally as well as globally that the partnership between AKP and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago (BGCC) arose. BGCC specializes in providing a wide array of support services and career development opportunities to inner city youth. The primary purpose of this partnership is to provide these young people with an introduction to A&K and the tourism industry as well as a two-week exposure to lives and livelihoods of those living and working in the western US. During this trip they have had a wide array of experiences, many of which are unique to the western landscape.

Career Development Presentations

We reached out to individuals throughout the A&K USA office, in various positions and departments, to create a series of presentations aimed at getting the youth excited about A&K and potential careers in the travel industry. Throughout the month of July, our speakers have shared what their jobs are like, why the tourism industry is exciting, and answered questions from the participants.

The BGCC members participating are at the age where they are graduating high school, going to college, and beginning their careers. We are hoping that we can inspire them to consider a career path that they may not have thought to be an option before – travel!

By joining and engaging with A&K and AKP, they gain exposure to possible careers working for a tour operator or within the travel and tourism industry. All participants joined eight Zoom sessions with A&K staff to further learn about careers in the travel industry prior to their journey.

Experiential Western Journey

In August, participants travelled throughout Wyoming and Idaho, learning about the livelihoods of many people living in a very different landscape from that of Chicago. By meeting and engaging with people who work in these industries, participants may be inspired to undertake a different career path. Some examples of professions include: farmer, innkeeper, US park ranger, chef, rafting guide, etc.

With this experience, participants also underwent in a personal transformational journey, incorporating elements of mindfulness. Youth participants engaged in facilitated, guided internal exploration such as journaling and yoga. They are also spending quality time outdoors, which they have seen as a great escape from their everyday lives in Chicago.

AKP crafted an engaging 13-day itinerary, including plans and preparations for lodging at ranch camps, transport, meals, and activities. After flying from Chicago to Salt Lake City, the group drove up to Swan Valley, Idaho to stay at Soul Ranch (Hansen Guest Ranch) then moved on to Jackson, Wyoming, with a night at the Bentwood Inn before going to the Teton Valley Ranch Camp.

During their time, they visited the production company WZRD Media, hiked to waterfalls, went river rafting, worked with horses, engaged in a discussion about climate change, heard from musicians and restaurant owners, and visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Through this experience, we hope that our youth participants underwent a journey that will positively impact their professional and personal development. We hope that exposure to these alternate lives and livelihoods will allow them to consider paths for themselves that they may not have thought to be possible.

A special thank you to our collaborators: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, Soul Ranch / Hansen Guest Ranch, Six Minutes Daily, Teton Valley Ranch Camp, and 501CTHREE. And a huge thank you to the A&K staff who participated in the pre-trip career sessions. Everyone involved has truly helped to make a positive difference in these young people’s lives!