Youth Leadership Camp

In 2014 YDN served – 100 youth, 20 returning youth facilitators and 20 adult leaders from four school districts and organizations. YDN provides a powerful youth leadership experience through the Youth Leadership Program (YLP). The purpose of this project is to build the capacity of youth, community youth-work leaders, organizations and other interested groups and engage youth in meaningful ways and to see youth as resources. YLP engages youth (from ages 12-24) typically tagged “at-risk” by our culture who are primarily low income, diverse, with a focus on racial and ethnic minorities, youth in foster care, pre-gang or gang affiliated youth, adjudicated youth, and other exhibiting risky behaviors such as truancy, academic failure, drug use, homelessness, and poor social skills.

Through proven asset-based youth development programming the youth who participate begin to see themselves not as “at risk” youth but more as youth who are “at promise.” This shift in thinking means they are filled with hope for their future, are engaged in academic and mentorship opportunities provided for them and are less likely to participate in behaviors and situations that will negatively affect their well-being.

The first camp program in 2014 was a Youth Leadership Camp, which included a 3-day/2-night camp for 25 youth hosted by the Mercy Housing program and was held in early June 2014 at the Marin Headlands International Hostel. The second camp, held in late July was a 4-day/3-night Twin Rivers Unified School District Student Leadership Strengths-Based camp for approx 50 youth, which took place at Happy Valley Conference Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The third camp program for 2014 was held in early December for the Conflict Mediation Program youth of Encina High School – San Juan Unified School District. 25 youth participated in the 3-day/2-night camp experience at the Point Reyes International Hostel.

All three camps, while each were uniquely customized, were designed specifically to support current and future academic success by engaging young people in school and community change and the development of 21st century skills (soft skills): problem solving/critical thinking, oral & written communication, teamwork, diversity, leadership, creativity, flexibility, initiative & self-direction, responsibility, productivity, and accountability. Through the camp activities, both structured and unstructured, these youth (from varied backgrounds, ethnicities, and life experience) develop strong positive relationships, while they learn to value their unique differences, strengths, and talents. Through facilitated activities, we aid these youth in learning valuable skills, as facilitators and participants.

“I’d do it all over again and again and so on.”
— Erick Bohannon, Student