Learning through Giving: WSPA Retreat at R.M. Pyles Boys Camp

As the 2018 year comes to a close, it’s an ideal time to reflect back on all we’re fortunate for, as well as think about how we all – as companies and as humans – can give back to society. Finding causes that are important to individuals or businesses can be a rewarding way to end a year.

Our member companies at the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) are part of the fabric of communities all across this part of the country, whether they’re providing sustainable energy solutions that work for everybody or giving their own time and resources to the places and organizations that need them. One of the most rewarding parts of my job has to be getting to see those impacts firsthand, which I was fortunate enough to do in a pretty unforgettable way this year.

One of the organizations that my team and I have come to support and deeply value is the R.M. Pyles Boys Camp in Kern National Forest, where earlier this year a handful of women at WSPA spent a weekend at the camp’s first-ever women’s retreat. I’ve written before about the inspiring work that this non-profit organization does for low-income, disadvantaged boys by building life skills and instilling the values of hard work, education and positive choices. This retreat gave us the chance to see that impact in action. And it provided us a platform for expanded ongoing support.

The natural beauty of the camp setting provides a safe and encouraging backdrop for these boys to really come out of their shells and safely share their feelings while learning valuable life skills. What I didn’t expect was just how much my team and I have also learned and benefited from watching the camp in action, and through our ongoing support.

We participated in a ropes course that helped us understand the team-building skills these boys were experiencing. It was a fantastic way to see firsthand how this camp was curating exercises and experiences that campers can take with them as they grow into responsible men. And I even picked up a few training aspects that I have taken back to my organization throughout the year.

My favorite part of the experience was interacting with the boys themselves, and hear directly from them what they have learned. One story that stood out to me was actually from the camp director, who shared a story from his time as a camper as he recalled being told for the first time ever that he had done a “good job” with something. That positive reinforcement, he said, literally changed his life. And, based on what I saw, I know he wasn’t the only one with a story like that to tell.

Hearing these types of powerful and emotional stories reiterated the importance of such organizations, and made us all realize why supporting them is an integral responsibility of being a part of the communities in which we operate. WSPA and our member companies have been proud to continue to support organizations that directly help the people within the communities we are a part of throughout 2018 – and beyond. And who knows, some of these boys may grow up to be the next leaders of tomorrow’s sustainable energy future.

As the 2018 holiday season comes into full swing, I encourage everyone to find and volunteer for such a cause that you all can be passionate about. I promise the time and/or resource investment will benefit you as much as it does them.

By Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President, Western States Petroleum Association

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