by Karina Pantoja
This past Monday, June 18, was the first day of our Youth Leadership Camp. The Youth Leadership Camp is a week-long training for high school students who will be helping RAWK out with our 4th and 5th, and middle school summer camps. The leaders mentor the younger students during their camps and also receive a stipend for their work after completing training and assisting with one camp.
At the beginning of their first day, with the help of facilitator Bianca Washington, the writing mentors introduced themselves to each other and talked about their expectations in regards to the work they would be doing. A lot of them have come to this camp with the interest of meeting new people, some have come because they enjoy working with younger students, and some have shown up with an open-mind and no expectations at all. Later on, the mentors created their “Leadership Agreement,” which details their goals and the expectations that they will hold each other and themselves to. Some of these that they brainstormed include: having positive attitudes, being respectful, being engaged and starting conversations, practicing patience, listening to each other, and more.
After the first few days of their camp, I checked in with the high schoolers to see how they were feeling about their new expectations and goals towards their work. One of our mentors Anna, was saying that she has volunteered with RAWK before and has been looking forward to helping with three of the camps! We also have some mentors who have never worked with RAWK before such as Caitlin and Montana, who had no idea what to expect. Both of them expressed that they were nervous at first, but after the first day they have become excited to have the opportunity to help others gain an interest in creative writing and are looking forward to connecting with the students in the camps they will be assisting with.
It has been great seeing how the mentors have transformed in only a week! They have gone from individuals who hesitantly participated in ice-breakers to individuals who have confidently shared the work they've produced in our writing sessions and have started to create friendships with each other. Our Youth Leaders are eager for our summer camps to start so they can meet the students and see what they produce during their time together. It’s going to be a RAWKing summer with these mentors so be sure to check them, their work, and our programs out!