Karolyn Estevez, Youth Development Specialist
As summer 2019 comes to a close, we note that this year's camp has been filled with much joy and enthusiasm by both our staff and our campers.
Throughout the last two weeks of camp, our students dove deeper into learning healthy coping skills as well as competitive team building games. One of the main goals of the program is not only to keep youth out of the streets during the summer, but to also provide them with tools that they can use to assist them throughout the school year.
Take for example Mindfulness which is the practice of becoming present and aware of your current situation as well as where you are in the world currently. Practicing being mindful has proven to help manage anxiety and reduce stress. Students who participated in mindfulness workshops practiced mindful meditation and gained a better understanding of the connection between their thoughts and feelings. These skills can be used in class whenever a student is feeling stressed or anxious, they can take a moment and center themselves and practice calming breathing techniques.
Each week, Wellspring's own Mallory S served as our Yoga instructor and helped bring mindfulness and helpful breathing techniques to the forefront of her classes. After each Yoga session, students expressed feeling more relaxed and acknowledged how they could use these techniques during the school year whenever they are feeling anxious.
Pathways also brought in Ms. Jacquise Armstrong. Ms. Armstrong facilitated a vision board workshop to help motivate our students to set goals for themselves. Vision boards are used to help youth develop a future plan and serve as a reminder to move toward those goals daily.
During the last week of summer camp, Pathways integrated freshman transition programming into our daily schedule to help ease incoming 9th graders' transition from Middle School to High School. Our freshman were paired off with upperclassmen mentors during the first week of summer camp, and during the course of the summer they engaged in bonding activities and team building activities with their mentors.
During the Freshman Transition workshops, students were given a presentation by the High School vice principal, Chris Rozanski. Students had the opportunity to ask the Vice Principal any question pertaining to the high school, giving them an exclusive opportunity to ask any pressing questions or express their concerns.
The Freshman Transition program proved to also be beneficial for our current upperclassmen because mindfulness can be used at any age or grade level. Our mentors also learned valuable leadership skills and gained confidence. Freshman also received a guided tour of the high school by their mentors and were able to ask their mentors questions throughout the tour. By participating in these workshops, our freshman can enter High School feeling more at ease and more confident.
Our last week was not just educational, but was also filled with many fun activities and games.
Campers attended a day trip to Funplex! Which is an outdoor waterpark along with indoor arcade games, Go-Kart, laser tag, and rides. Towards the end of the week our students participated in a series of competitive mini games called Color Wars. Here our students used their communication skills to successfully work together as a team and complete each task. Our campers were so enthusiastic and excited throughout these games, the day was filled with cheering and a friendly competitive atmosphere.
To wrap up our summer camp activities, our counselors and campers participated in Warm Fuzzies, which involved each student writing something positive to another student until everyone's sheet of paper was filled with positive sayings, affirmations, and sentimental comments. We then transitioned to Yarn Web which, like Warm Fuzzies, had each student state a special moment or nice thing to say about another camper until everyone was connected through a piece of yarn. This showed how we all became connected with one another and those connections will remain throughout the school year. Finally, we ended summer camp with Paper Plates Awards, during which the counselors presented each student with a paper plate celebrating their unique quirky, and funny attributes that helped contribute to a wonderful summer camp experience. It was hard saying goodbye, but Pathways will always keep its doors open to our students and looks forward to seeing them this upcoming school year.