The weekend of June 2nd-4th marked The Center’s 6th annual Youth Leadership Camp. Pam Pastorino and Ashley LeBelle, School Health Specialists working under the WSCC (Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child) grant, orchestrated a jam packed weekend including outdoor activities, leadership training opportunities, team building exercises and personal growth at the Fairview Lake YMCA Camp in Stillwater, NJ. Fifty-four middle and high school students from an array of schools from Perth Amboy to Vernon Township were chosen to attend the three day-two night camp. Students participated in activities such as: archery, boating, tie dye and small group training workshops led by Marc Fusco, a teacher at Union City High School, and the coordinator of Project Pursuit, an NJDOH grant funded initiative. Mr. Fusco shared the importance of recognizing the stakeholders in our lives and becoming stakeholders for others. With each group led by a returning camp alumni, this weekend truly focused on growth and bonding with students both as members of a team and individually, as leaders. This dynamic reinforces the importance of being stakeholders in each other’s lives. One student shared “I loved how everyone cooperated and didn’t feel embarrassed to talk their hearts out”. With the help of three returning campers (now sophomores in college), the YMCA camp staff and six adult chaperones, the students felt safe and comfortable to open themselves up to experiences they may not have had otherwise. One chaperone stated “the best part of the weekend is watching students step up and lead their peers. As well as watching former students volunteer their time to help current students. Some of these students are more involved now than they were when they were in high school and that shows true growth”. As the students loaded the buses and vehicles to head home it was clear to see the impression this weekend left on them written in the smiles across all of their faces and the final hugs they shared with their new friends. “This was the most fun I have ever had!” “The only thing that would have made this weekend better was if it lasted forever”.
Pamela Pastorino, MPH & Ashley LeBelle, BS
School Health Specialists