A Culminating Camp Experience – Young Leaders

During my time as Assistant Director of Older Programs, working with our Young Leaders for the first time has been a definite highlight of my career. As the newest program at camp– we ran our first YL session in 2017– Young Leaders has undergone the most significant change of any of our programs at camp these past few years. I’ve seen the identity of the Young Leaders program solidify under the mentorship of some incredible leaders (both staff and participants alike)!

When I try at the difficult task of distilling down what the Young Leaders program’s identity is, there are a few words that spring readily to my mind: service, personal development, community, FUN!  As the name would suggest, our Young Leaders program is aimed at bringing out the leadership potential in our oldest aged campers. A summer camp setting provides an incredibly dynamic classroom with which to accomplish this. I can’t think of a better place for honing communication, mentorship, and teaching skills. Our Young Leaders are equipped with tools to develop these skill sets and then given opportunities to apply them in real-time. Campers can learn and test out these tools whilst receiving supportive feedback from professional outdoor educators.

As I reflect on what this program has become, I’m reminded of some of my favorite moments that I get to share with the Young Leaders each summer. I love getting to sit down with our Young Leaders throughout their session and hear about the successes and challenges they experience while shadowing in program areas. I get excited to hear them discuss concepts like growth mindset and pedagogy! I enjoy seeing the pictures of them harvesting vegetables at the Gwynn Valley Farm and then donating that harvest to the Bread of Life (a local food bank) in town. 

Young Leaders is a transformative experience. I hope watching some of our former Young Leaders speak to this aspect of the program in the video linked below elicits half as much joy for you all as it has for me. We can’t wait to see what all of these incredible Leaders build this summer!