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Gold Star Teen Adventures

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Leadership Development, Military & Veterans Organizations, Secondary & High Schools, Veterans, Youth Development

Mission: Gold Star Teen Adventures enables healing, fosters enduring relationships, and develops character and leadership skills through adventure experiences to the surviving youth of the Military and First Responders who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Results: Over the past 6 years, Gold Star Teen Adventures has served over 400 participants through adventures providing opportunity, healing, mentorship and leadership and character development. The adventures provided by GSTA include hunting, gun safety, marksmanship training, leadership development, scuba diving, survival training with opportunities to utilize the skills acquired during training. Over 100 teens have earned their Open Water Scuba Certification, 75+ have earned their Advanced Certification and their Nitrox , and 20+ have earned their Rescue level training. GSTA works to provide opportunity for healing, growth, and development through adventure experiences.

Target demographics: Gold Star Teen Adventures provides unique summer adventure opportunities for Gold Star Youth. The purpose of the program is to provide healing, mentorship, development, and opportunity to the children of special operations Service Members who lost their lives in the line of duty. The program serves youth of fallen United States military special operations service members, consisting of Army Special Forces (Green Berets), Army Rangers (75th Ranger Regiment), the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, 4th MISOC, Navy Small Boat Teams, Navy SEALs, Air Force Combat Controllers, Air Force rotary and fixed wing squadrons, and Marine Corps special operations personnel.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 138 participants

Geographic areas served: Gold Star Teen Adventures provides unique summer adventure opportunities for Gold Star Youth.

Programs: GSTA Basic open Water Scuba, Alumni Advanced Scuba, Basic Outdoor Leadership, Alumni Advanced Outdoor Leadership, GSTA Leadership Workshop, GSTA Girl's Retreat, GSTA's White Tail Deer Hunt.

Community Stories

29 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

My granddaughter was 13 when she lost her father in Afghanistan. Thirteen is a difficult age under normal circumstances; losing a parent at that age is devastating. My granddaughter was angry; she refused counseling and kept her emotions to herself. I was worried about her but there was nothing I could do to help. GSTA came to her rescue. With each outdoor adventure and the connection to others who understood, she became more confident and less angry. Today she is in her junior year of college and finds joy in giving back to the organization by being a mentor to younger Gold Star Teens.

Alison L.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Gold Star Teen Adventures has given me a community, and I am so blessed to be involved with such an amazing and impactful organization. I went to my first GSTA camp in 2014, and I have truly found a family in the people I have been fortunate enough to meet through this organization. We are united through our loss of a parent in the military, but that loss does not define us. Because of GSTA, I have been backpacking in the mountains of North Carolina, trekked through the jungles of Belize, and gone SCUBA diving in some of the most amazing places in the world, including Bonaire and Grand Cayman. Gold Star Teen Adventures has shaped me into the young adult I am today, and I do not know where I would be without their influence. Through their mentorship, leadership training, and encouragement to live beyond my comfort zone, I have grown so much, and I now mentor other teens who are in the same situation I was a few years ago. I am proud to be able to serve and give back to an organization that has given me so much.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I discovered GSTA recently and was blown away by the family atmosphere that the organization creates. I’ve never met a more cohesive group of teens, united by shared experiences. The group’s senior leadership works incredibly hard to make the adventures full of top notch opportunities for high adventure and sharpening of skills most kids never have to opportunity to build. I’m so lucky to have had my path cross with GSTA!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a teen that participates in these adventures and my experience with GSTA has been nothing but amazing, I try to go to as many camps as I can. I love the kindness, generosity, and friendships. GSTA is not a foundation, it is a family build on tight bonds.

holly w

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son loves Gold Star Teen Adventures, as do I!

We lost his father during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It’s not been easy growing up without a father or male role model.

When we found GSTA last year I was over joyed at the opportunities this organization provides to our children. My son Tyler absolutely loves every adventure he’s been able to go on throughout the year and we can’t thank you enough!

Everyone involved from the volunteers,mentors, donors, sponsors and supporters are so wonderful. You all have had a very positive influence in our lives.

Thank you! ❤️

1 Kaylee S.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Gold Star Teen Adventures is an absolutely incredible nonprofit. I attended my first adventure as a gold Star Teen in 2014, and the relationships that I have built from the organization are some of my very favorite ever. GSTA offers once in a lifetime opportunities to the children of our fallen, who have sacrificed so much. While most of these trips are a week long, this group has become family & they are in it for the long haul. It’s been five years since my first adventure, and they continue to invest in me and encourage me to do great things.

1 Kelly E.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My children love GSTA, they did not want to leave. They love GSTA better than TAPS and found a second home and friends. Really blessed to have them part of our families. Thank you to GSTA

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GSTA is the most impactful organization I have ever been involved with. They give so many opportunities to Children of the Fallen to experience different parts of the world through meaningful activities and useful skills. Whether it’s through backpacking, scuba diving, or rock climbing, the teens are definitely challenged and motivated by GSTA to be great people and future leaders.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I grew up as a Gold Star Teen and found out about GSTA through other Gold Star Teens I grew up with and through some of my peers at the Naval Academy. I am super grateful that GSTA has welcomed me into the family as a mentor. They brought me on board the team when I was a plebe, and I have been on trips with the teens all over the world from North Carolina to Kauai to Belize over the past three years. The relationships I have built extend far beyond the amazing adventures that go on throughout the year. I'm truly blessed to be apart of this family that I know will be with me for life.

-Chris Bianchi

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Wonderful Organization. Beautiful people. True Patriots helping those in need in the great Spirit of The United States of America,

God Bless.
Rob Matticola
Homeland Security Director
NYW-Ferry

2 Akira L.

Donor

Rating: 5

GSTA is an incredible organization. From the ground up their focus is ALWAYS on the teens that they serve. I have fundraised for them 3 times so far and been lucky enough to meet the incredibly kind and hardworking members of their organization and some of the Gold Star Teens. Their focus on their incredibly important mission and the efficiency with which they run makes them a fantastic organization that I proudly support.

1 Stacy M.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization provides the BEST experiences for our Gold Star families! I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend an adventure and the smiles on faces of these kids was priceless! The organizers and mentors go out of their way to provide support in any way needed. It’s tragic that these services are needed, but so thankful they are available! Keep up the awesome work GSTA!

Previous Stories
1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I’ve had the great privilege of seeing this organization in action and interacting with some of the teens involved. This is an outstanding organization that affords these gold star kids some amazing opportunities! The founders, volunteers and mentors go above and beyond. You can see the joy they bring on the faces of the kids that have endured such heart ache. THANK YOU GSTA!

2 Tricia Fernandez Tarlavsky K.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Joey was 10 months old when his dad was killed in action. He never had the chance to witness his dad’s thirst for adventure, or his love of scuba, hiking and camping. Gold Star Teen Adventures has recognized the importance of providing opportunities for teens like Joey to explore the world that their dad would have shown them if he could. Joey has traveled with GSTA to Belize for Advanced Scuba Certification and Outdoor Leadership Course, Florida for Wreck Diving, North Carolina to deer hunt and train with special forces. He will travel this Summer to Bonaire for Rescue Diver and back to North Carolina to compete in an Amazing Race like competition. Hands down, GSTA is Joey’s favorite group of people and the highlight of his year.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Gold Star Teen Adventures is more than a program it is an investment. An investment into the lives of Gold Star Teens. This organization stays actively involved in a teen's life and the program is structured to bring the teen back year after year to progress in skills and in turn in the relationships they build both with peers and mentors. GSTA is like no other program I have ever witnessed. It is certainly not a grief camp, but rather a opportunity for teens to honor their fallen loved one by meeting their potential and surpassing their fears and overcoming challenges through experiences not often had by others.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been involved with GSTA for over 4 years and it has been truly life changing. I am honored and humbled to be associated with this family. I travel throughout the year with the teens and host the "Fall Whitetail Deer Hunt." Providing fun, challenging and educational adventures for these kids that have sacrificed so much is the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced. We focus on opportunity, not loss, by engaging the teens in fun, safe activities and life experiences that they will never forget. THIS IS AN AMAZING ORGANIZATION that consistently delivers on it's mission to enable healing, foster enduring relationships and to develop character and leadership skills through adventure experiences. I am truly blessed to be a donor, sponsor, volunteer and board member. GSTA is truly a GREAT NONPROFIT !!!

2 Alex V.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a mentor for GSTA, it was a life changing experience for me. I was able to push myself and my team beyond what I thought possible. The kids, program, and fellow mentors are incredibly compassionate, enthusiastic, and promote and experience that these kids will never forget. I will be involved with GSTA for life.
-Alex Vandenberg, US Naval Academy Class of '19

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I became a part of Gold Star Teen Adventures as a result of a high school classmate not making it home from Afghanistan. When I met with his wife and two children 4 years later I instantly thought about who takes these children to do dad stuff. The answer I would soon find out was Gold Star. As Jessica told me about the organization I was instantly drawn to them. I've spent the last 15 months working to raise money in a variety of ways. Success in my mind is measured by impact. The impact in this case is the fellowship between children that have gone through similar losses. The hurt, the emptiness and all of the emotions of losing your parent to war is explored together. There is great power in knowing someone that is dealing with something similar to you. The healing that takes place within Gold Star is real and thus the positive impact is what I'm signing up to be a part of. The founders Kent and Trina Solheim will leave you speechless with their drive and commitment to ensure the healing of the children.

2 Samantha P.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a "Gold Star Teen," and have had the amazing opportunity to be actively involved with the organization for almost 5 years now!! I have since graduated from the program, and get the incredible privilege to continue with the organization as a GSTA mentor. It is such an honor to be able to serve an organization that has personally given me so much healing and provided me with a community of amazing people who know and understand my story! GSTA is an organization truly worth your contribution because they so the extra mile. The relationships built through each adventure extends far into the daily lives of each teen by giving each teen a community that is dependable and cares for them on a personal level!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just got involved with GSTA as a mentor for the first time this past summer and was immediately blown away. The leadership of this organization is extremely committed to the teens and offers them tremendous opportunities for adventures such as scuba diving, hunting, and outdoor survival skills. The teens also develop close bonds with each other as well as with the mentors. I can't wait to continue working with GSTA in the future!

Austin A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been apart of Gold Star Teen Adventure for about 5 years now. Ranging from Outdoor Survival Camps, to Scuba Diving, G.S.T.A has expanded my range of experiences and has also taught me lessons I'll be able to carry with me for the rest of my life. Thank You G.S.T.A for everything you have done!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Scuba diving, hiking, swimming with dolphins, windsurfing, completing a rugged maniac race, learning how to build a fire, competitions, etc..the list of opportunities goes on and on. Gold Star Teen Adventures is a unique non-profit organization that offers experiences like no other. I have been fortunate enough to attend several adventures to assist with logistics and planning, as well as mentor, and the interactions I have had were, and continue to be many of the most memorable moments in my life. Relationships between the teens and mentors last longer than the duration of the trip and the excitement for each adventure never dwindles. These adventures offer healing through exciting opportunties that facilitate leadership skills, foster self confidence, and lead to endless days and nights of laughter and fun. The thought and planning that goes into these adventures and the execution of them is absolutely amazing. What an awesome non-profit organization!!!