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TriCity Family Services celebrates anniversary of Wilderness Challenge Program

GENEVA – Twenty-five years ago, Jim Otepka and Greg Watson created the Wilderness Challenge Program, an eight-day canoeing and camping experience. 

Otepka, executive director of TriCity Family Services, and Watson, TriCity Family Services’ senior clinician/consultant, created the program to help at-risk teens gain skills, such as self-confidence, courage and perseverance, states a news release.

Otepka and Watson, marked their 25th year by leading a group of 25 teens through the Boundary Waters of Minnesota.

TriCity Family Services congratulates the participants of the 25th annual Wilderness Challenge Program for their determination, ambition and teamwork on the trail, states a release. 

The team departed for its adventure June 13 and returned June 20. 

On their journey, the group had to face several days of rain, mosquitoes and other challenges posed by Mother Nature, the release states. 

The trip was led by agency staff and adult volunteers from the community. 

To date, more than 490 teens have experienced the Wilderness Challenge Program led by TriCity Family Services, the release states.

To celebrate the program’s success, TriCity Family Services will host a 25th anniversary celebration from 5 p.m. to dusk Thursday, July 17, at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles. 

The public is invited to attend. The event is free, but donations are appreciated. 

Attendees to the event will enjoy an evening of food, games and camaraderie as TriCity Family Services celebrates its anniversary. 

Past participants will be in attendance.

Those interested in attending should RSVP by Friday, July 11, by calling the organization’s office at 630-232-1070 or visiting

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