The American Adventure Service Corps began in August 1996 in Morganton, North Carolina as an experiment in a new type of program design to partially address the needs of young people utilizing the theme of outdoor adventure and service to others. Originally, the program targeted 25 boys and girls, ages 13 to 18. The concept has expanded to include 8 to 12-year-olds in a branch called Little Scouting Outward. The original unit maintains approximately 50 members along with a growing list of graduates, many of whom still participate in summer expeditions while in college.
Mike Fischesser conceived the idea and developed the program to be a hybrid of philosophies and methodologies between Boy Scouts of America and Outward Bound, since both organizations had been a major part of Mike’s life. He wanted to create a year-round structured environment with unique fun and high-powered adventures, including service activities that would provide educational opportunities to keep members active and committed for many years.
After three years of extremely successful program development, Mike decided to replicate the model on a national level with the vision of having TAASC units available to many more young people.
"In August of 1996 a small group of Morganton, NC families assembled to discuss a new concept for a youth program based on the principles of Scouting, Outward Bound and the Peace Corps. Mike Fischesser created the concept to mesh together the successes of the other programs.
Originally the new program was called Scouting Outward to reflect the blend of philosophies and targeted youth ages 12 to 18. Around 1998 Mike decided to experiment with the minimum age and it was lowered to 8 in an attempt to test the methodology. It was called Little Scouting Outward and it worked. Young people, age 8 to 11 were accomplishing unbelieveable tasks under the mentoring of the Older members. The benefits to both age groups were numerous and very obvious.
In 2000 the name was changed to lessen confusion of connections to other organizations. The American Adventure Service Corps ( TAASC ) became the new name and cities across the southeast were learning of the concept and invited the Morganton TAASC kids to speak to their communities. A $300,000 donation allowed TAASC to establish an office, hire professionals and travel to numerous communities and conduct presentations to large audiences. Only one community developed a TAASC program in that era. Black Mountain TAASC directed by Outward Bound instructors, Sue Pegrume and husband Steve Ackerman, was strong for about two years, before the Parent TAASC Force finally tired of raising funds to keep the program alive and it was decided to close it down and study the feasibility of re-establishing the program in Asheville, NC a year later.
In the winter of 2005 Mike contacted legendary Outward Bound instructors Beth Hockman and Greg Gillett as to their availability and interest in TAASC. They jumped at the opportunity to move to Asheville and recruit youth members and families to join. Mike raised funds to develop the program and Beth and Greg did it. By May of 2005 partnerships with Evergreen Community Charter School and Carolina Day School allowed TAASC to begin programming. The successful formula to start TAASC in a new community worked. It had not been successful in all the other community attempts because hired professionals were not inserted in the community to develop the program.
After a combined 22 years of adventure and service, TAASC has provided numerous youth and families with remarkable life experiences unrivaled by any other program in the United States and perhaps the world. The main ingredients to success are the year round nature of the program, Olders mentoring Youngers, the unique activities and professional outdoor educators running the program.
The interesting historical challenge has and continues to be, ” how to attract and retain youth and families into TAASC, which Graduates report to have been one of the single most life changing opportunities of their life”.
"The full potential of The American Adventure Service Corps has yet to be developed."
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