Adventure programFor nearly 30 years, New Heights in Portsmouth and Exeter has made adventure one of its primary offerings in both its school and summer programs. More than simply taking participants on random excursions on hiking trails or on surfboards in the ocean, New Heights adventure programs place youth in situations where skills like leadership and teambuilding are actively developed and encouraged.

For Joanie Dickinson, whose son Drew has participated in overnight programs in which he canoed in the Adirondacks and backpacked in Utah, the programs are life-changing.

“New Heights is inspirational to children and their parents,” she said. “The New Heights programs and staff are consistent but also changing by being open minded and adding programs as need be.”

Tracey Tucker, longtime executive director at New Heights, said adventure programs “demand accountability from youth in supportive environments,” which she said is crucial to their emotional development.

“Research is very clear that well-designed adventure programs enable youth to experience risk in acceptable ways that can teach them life lessons they cannot learn in a class room setting,” she added.

In addition to helping youth develop leadership and teambuilding skills, Adventure Coordinator Sally Gregory said their staff design activities that help them overcome personal fears and hardships.

“Adventure programming can help kids reach their potential and build a sense of self-worth,” she said.

Current participant Drew Dickinson agrees with Gregory and added, “My favorite part about New Heights is to have the opportunity to go out of my comfort zone in a fun and encouraging atmosphere and push my limits comfortably. “I also love that I’m able to travel around the country and see sights like Arches National Park in Utah and hike and climb in areas I would have never had the chance to do before.”

Expressing excitement at the upcoming Summer Adventure Program, which features a High School ‘Surfin Safari’ trip in Cape Cod and a trip to the Adirondacks among other expeditions, Gregory said New Heights continually tries to “raise the bar.”

“We don’t rest on our laurels,” she said. “We are committed to each and every group of kids that come through here.”

The staff’s commitment is obvious even to the participants, according to Drew. “New Heights is awesome and worth giving a shot because it’s fun and the people running the programs are awesome and love to have fun,” he said. “By going to New Heights, you have the opportunity to do essentially whatever you like in a fun and encouraging setting.”

February 20th, 2017

Posted In: Latest news

Seacoast, NH—March 25, 2016—Bringing in experts from across southern New Hampshire, New Heights’ next In the Know panel discussion, The Adolescent Brain: Words, Actions, and Habits—Communicating with your Developing In the KnowAdolescent, will focus on adolescents and the family dynamic. Citing social media as just one factor that often “trips up” many parents, New Heights Executive Director Tracey Tucker said the discussion will provide tools and strategies that will benefit any caregiver.

“Parents today are navigating a world that is substantially different than the one in which they grew up,” she said. “This discussion will get right to issues that cause great concern for parents.”

Sponsored by Whole Life Health Care in Newington, the event will take place from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on Thursday, March 31 at the Portsmouth Public Library and on Thursday, April 7 at Exeter Town Hall. At the discussions, speakers will respond to questions developed beforehand. Examples of the questions include:

• What are some of the most prevalent reasons communication between parents and adolescents erodes?
• Our childhood bond seems to have evaporated—where did my child go?
• Why does my child choose his fickle friends?
• What can we do to lay groundwork for future communication with my 10-year-old?
• When did I become the enemy?

One of several speakers at the Exeter discussion, Dr. Laura Rubin, founder of the Portsmouth Neuropsychology Center, will discuss how brain developments during adolescence impact “decision making, family and peer relationships, sense of self, and overall emotional well-being.”

“I’m excited to share with the community the latest research in adolescent development which can be used to better understand this critical developmental period and improve family relationships,” said Rubin, who will speak at the Exeter discussion.

At the Portsmouth discussion, Lindsey Ewald, education coordinator at Chase Home, will touch on several topics related to communication with developing adolescents, including appropriate boundaries, respecting privacy when appropriate, trying not to emotionally respond, and clear rules.

“I’ll also discuss appropriate consequences—positive or negative—and explaining choices and educating teens about the results of those choices, and normalizing teens’ difficulties with emotional regulation,” she added.

In sponsoring the series since its inception, Bob Girard at Whole Life Health Care said it is their belief that New Heights helps fill an important role in the community.

“We believe in their programs, their investment in the youth of our community, their staff, and the programs they provide—this series is just one example of their continued efforts at educating the community,” he said.

There is no cost to attend either panel discussion, which will include refreshments. For more information, visit, or contact

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December 25th, 2016

Posted In: Latest news

Portsmouth and Exeter, NH–March 22, 2016–Open for a little more than 5 years, The Fabulous Find in Kittery has turned donated designer clothing and home décor into a fundraising juggernaut. With its latest monthly donation—Fab Findmore than $7,200 each to New Heights and the NH Theatre Project—The Fabulous Find has given away $774,983 to local nonprofits.

“We were started by a few women who had an idea for a different type of resale shop—something above the typical thrift shop, but not quite a consignment shop,” said Marcye Philbrook, board president and one of several founders. “We also resolved to beautifully display the merchandise and shoot for a better quality of item.”

The idea has worked, according to New Heights’ Janice Hastings, who said the entire staff was “shocked” when they received the check.

“We really could not believe it,” she said. “A dollar amount like that goes a long way toward meeting the needs of Seacoast youth.”

Founded in 1987, New Heights has evolved through the years as an organization in which youth primarily “hung out” in a teen center to one where they currently engage in workshops and programs that complement school curricula.

“New Heights provides a place where 5th through 12graders can discover, push themselves, and learn essential skills—communication, team-building, and problem solving,” Hastings added. “Our school year and summer programs are exceptional.”

As for how The Fabulous Find has been able to make such an impact, Philbrook cited the help of many volunteers as well as to how they built their business model.

“We partner with these non-profits in such a way that they do the marketing and promotion of their month to raise our sales and donations of goods—and hence, their profits,” she explained. “This keeps our costs low and gets great participation from our partnering non-profits.”

According to Philbrook, they give to many types of 501c3 non-profits in many industries, including environmental, educational, history, health, women, children, seniors, veterans, the arts, animals, food pantries, fuel assistance programs and others.

In looking to the future, she said she hopes to continue to spread the word to people who may not know about The Fabulous Find and to also encourage individuals to give back to the community. As far as Hastings is concerned, The Fabulous Find has emerged as one of the most important philanthropic leaders on the Seacoast.

“In a short time, they have made an incredible difference,” she said. “They make giving back fun and meaningful—I’m not sure there is a better business formula out there.”

To learn more about The Fabulous Find, visit

December 22nd, 2016

Posted In: Latest news

Portsmouth and Exeter, NH—February 18, 2016—For anyone who would like to receive a technical shirt when registering for New Heights’ upcoming 7th Annual St. Paddy’s “April Fool’s” Five Miler, the cut-off date is March 1.

“Getting a high-quality technical shirt is a huge benefit that many people love when it comes to road races,” said Todd Hanson, who organizes the race. “We don’t want anyone to be disappointed. We know runners love their shirts and we want ours to be their favorite.”

Proceeds from the race support New Heights, which works collaboratively with schools and agencies across southern New Hampshire to offer programs for youth, grades 5 through 12, in adventure, arts and culture, and STEM.

The 7th Annual St. Paddy’s “April Fool’s” Five Miler will take place at 10:30 AM on Sunday, April 3, 2016 at Paddy’s American Grille at the Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth. Race perks include food, hot soups and beer to participants (age 21 & up).

Registration is $30 with technical shirts available to all who register by March 1., or call (603) 422-8235.

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December 18th, 2016

Posted In: Latest news

For New Heights, their summer program begins in the dead of winter when staff get together to begin to discuss opportunities they want to develop for youth.

“We do not simply roll out the same programs every summer,” said New Heights Executive Director Tracey Tucker. “We like to mix the new in with the old.”

According to Tucker, its new Tristate Adventure program may prove to be one of its more popular offerings this summer. In this program, youth will engage in activities in ME, NH, and MA.

“They will have a chance to rock climb, boogie board and enjoy an ice cream extravaganza all in one day,” she said. “It’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”

In its new Boogie Boarding and Slacklining program, longtime Adventure Coordinator Sally Gregory said youth will have the chance to slackline at the top of a mountain as well as boogie board in the ocean on the same day.

“Slacklining is an increasingly popular sport that resembles slack rope walking and tightrope walking,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun and we supply all the equipment kids will need.”

New Heights also offers intensive multi-day workshops in which youth can investigate various subjects, or engage in activities, at greater length. Mad Circus Skillz is one such workshop.

“This is an opportunity for youth to learn to walk on both two and four foot tall stilts and make their own performance grade hula hoop to keep,” said New Heights’ becca Pawling. “Kids will finish the workshop by showing off a bit to the tourists of Prescott Park.”

For Pawling, her workshop reflects her strong belief that creativity is essential for youth. She cited her choice in not capitalizing her first name as an example—albeit fun—that people also should feel free to be themselves.

“We encourage positive creative expression, and so how I choose to spell—or not spell—my name sort of demonstrates that for the kids in my workshops,” she noted. “It is okay to be whoever you are.”

Day Camp
For youth who appreciate day trips as opposed to extended overnight expeditions of which New Heights offers several, the Day Camp program is the perfect fit.

“Whether a youth is looking to go swimming at a beach or tubing at a water park, we offer all sorts of different one-day adventures,” Tucker said. “It’s a chance for kids to get their proverbial feet wet at New Heights before moving on to more intensive programs and opportunities.”

According to Tucker, though, New Heights’ Day Camp is still constructed like any other summer program.

“We discuss how we want each day to look like, what staff we want where and in the appropriate instructor to youth ratios,” she added. “Everything we do is intentional, which is why we begin to map out our Summer Program by December of the previous year.”

Community Support
As for how New Heights can continue to diversify its summer programming each year, Director of Development & Marketing Janice Hastings said community support is critical. She cited its upcoming St, Paddy’s “April Fool’s” Five-Miler in April as proof regarding the “incredible support” New Heights receives from surrounding communities.

“This race attracts more than a thousand people each year—it’s essentially a big party whose purpose, of course, is to raise money for our programs,” she added. “From participants to corporate and individual sponsors, this event alone demonstrates just what New Heights means to the greater Seacoast…Our Summer Program would not be what it is without this type of support.”

As for what parents and youth alike can expect this summer at New Heights, Tucker distilled her beliefs into one word. “Fun,” she laughed.

New Heights charges program fees, but offers need-based scholarships and all the equipment necessary to participate. To register or learn more about New Heights’ Summer Program, please visit, or call (603) 422-8235.

December 17th, 2016

Posted In: Latest news

Destination Imagination

Portsmouth, NH–April 7, 2016–After achieving honors for creativity, teamwork and innovation in regional and state academic tournaments, New Heights’ Savage Cabbages team has earned the right to compete in Destination Imagination’s Global Finals, the world’s largest celebration of student creativity, to be held May 25-28 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

They will compete with other teams in the Get a Clue challenge, one of seven, open-ended challenges that require students to apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills in addition to their talents in improvisation, theater arts, writing, project management, communication, innovation, teamwork, community service and social entrepreneurship.

“I’m just so proud of what the kids accomplished,” said New Heights’ Wayne Moulton, who managed the team. “They worked hard and it paid off.”

Team members are equally excited about the opportunity to compete in the Global Finals

“We are insanely excited,” said 9th Grader Maya Campbell. “The challenge has been really fun this year and I can’t wait to see how much further we can take it.”

9th Grader Elisa Dhanger is equally excited, as she added, “For us to have been picked as the wild card is amazing and I have no doubts that this will be one of the best experiences ever and something I won’t forget or stop taking about.”

This year, 150,000 students have participated in Destination Imagination tournaments throughout the U.S. and 30 countries in hopes of earning a spot at the Global Finals competition in May.

The Savage Cabbages team is among more than 8,000 students representing more than 1,400 teams that will advance to Global Finals, which will be held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville May 25-28.

“The Destination Imagination program is a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity,” said Chuck Cadle, CEO of Destination Imagination. “Quantitative reasoning, collaborative problem solving, risk taking, collaboration, presentations and thinking on your feet are some of the important skills learned in the program.”

Destination Imagination is a leader in project-based learning opportunities that blend STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education with the arts and social entrepreneurship. Its academic challenges are designed to teach kids how to think, not what to think, and then present their solutions at regional and state tournaments.

Each year, DI competitions begin with a regional tournament where team solutions are assessed by a panel of trained appraisers, ranging from educators to artists to engineers. Each team solution is scored on a variety of elements, including originality, workmanship, presentation and teamwork. Teams with the highest scores advance to the Affiliate (state or country) tournaments. The top-tiered teams from the Affiliate tournaments advance to Global Finals.

Destination Imagination, Inc. dedicates itself to enriching the global community by providing opportunities for learners of all ages to explore and discover using the creative process from imagination to innovation.

For more information about Global Finals, visit To learn more about New Heights, visit

About Destination Imagination

Destination Imagination, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) volunteer-led non-profit organization whose purpose is to inspire and equip students to become the next generation of innovators and leaders. The most popular education offering is the Challenge Program, where student teams solve open-ended STEM, arts and service learning Challenges and present their solutions to trained Appraisers. Founded in 1982, Destination Imagination has impacted more than 1.5 million students. To learn more, please visit

December 11th, 2016

Posted In: Latest news

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