“The Grandfather Challenge” program is sponsored by The Jason Project, Inc., which was formed by the parents of Jason Matthew Nipper, who passed away in June of 2014 at age 26. This private foundation provides outward bound-type wilderness and hiking excursions and similar programs which are designed to build self-confidence in struggling youth, as well as trust and positive rapport with adult mentors. Although the program focus is on at-risk kids suffering from mental problems and/or drug addictions, the underlying goals are to assist any at-risk kids who are struggling with personal adversities.
With the direct help and encouragement of Dr. David Burleson, the Superintendent of the Avery County School System and Mr. Ellis Ayers, Director Of Curriculum & Accountability, a pilot program enlisting the help of area Boy Scouts was recently implemented and completed. These Boy Scouts volunteered to undertake “The Grandfather Challenge,” and recently navigated all of the major hiking trails at Grandfather Mountain. Through their efforts, these very responsible and capable young men will help pave the way for future hikes, where at-risk kids will begin to hike the trails on Grandfather mountain. James and Cheryl Nipper are very indebted to Dr. Burleson and Ellis Ayers for their full and energetic support of this program.
Local Boy Scouts from Boy Scouts of America / BSA Troop 814 of Crossnore, NC who have recently completed this rigorous and challenging hiking program are: Seth Moody, Jeremiah Clark, Damian Fuller, and Nathaniel Hardy. Two of their adult scout leaders, Mr. Reed Clark and Mr. Neal Moody, accompanied these scouts on each of these hikes. The hikes were conducted and supervised by Tom Henry and Leif Mieras of Appalachian Mountain Leadership, which is a faith-based, highly certified and experienced outfitter group headquartered in Boone, NC, which provides outward bound-type activities of various kinds, including extended wilderness excursions, rock climbing, overnight camping, and other experiences in which they teach leadership, wilderness management, discipline, and character building values and goals. The organizers of “The Grandfather Challenge” strongly believe that these experiences enhance self-confidence in our youth, and will encourage them to rise above their challenges in life.
The Jason Project, Inc. provides hiking boots, backpacks, socks, raincoats, Grandfather Mountain entrance fees, professional guides, and all other costs associated with this program. At the successful completion of each round of hikes, the youth participants are each given a Certificate Of Completion and a gift certificate at an awards ceremony in their honor. This current group just celebrated their achievements at Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk.
Program administrators express thanks and appreciation to these Boy Scouts, who will now help critique the program and become ambassadors to other area youth who may have the opportunity to accept and participate in “The Grandfather Challenge.”
Anyone seeking further information about “The Grandfather Challenge” may contact James or Cheryl Nipper at 828-765-6561 or 904-354-7378, or via email at [email protected], or visit their Go Fund Me page at GoFundMe.com/TheJasonProject.