Collaborating For Youth (CFY) is Adams County’s community coalition working in support for prevention of substance abuse, healthy youth development, family stability, and much more. Established in 2001, we are a successful Drug Free Communities agency and support many projects and programs designed to build resilience and support in our local communities.

Recognizing the importance of youth participation and voice, CFY has an 11-year history of youth engagement. An important part of that work is cultivating young leaders. At CFY, this happens via youth leadership camp. During the last week of June, 25 high school youth are selected to attend camp to further develop their leadership skills. The skills gained at camp last a lifetime and help develop our community’s leadership pipeline. Camp has provided hundreds of students with essential leadership skills to make positive changes in the community.

Collaborating For Youth’s Leadership Camp occurs June 24-27, at Camp Thompson. This is a substance free camp designed for any youth entering high school up to 12th grade. Every aspect of camp promotes leadership to include: time management, leading organized activities, camp service projects, public speaking, and listening. It offers a structured environment for youth on how to prepare meals, take responsibility, and increase social skills. These skills lead to forming bonds, which one camper expressed as, “Really important!”

For many campers, this is the highlight of their summer. For youth that have attended camp in prior years, they have an opportunity to attend as “junior mentors.” Junior mentors are part of the Camp Support Team that helps new campers hone-in their own personal leadership skills and problem solve with their group. As one prior junior mentor stated, “At camp, I learned how to be more patient when someone is expressing their feelings and to actively listen when others are speaking. Through different team-building activities, I learned how to take on more leadership responsibilities. This includes self-control, handling priorities, problem solving, and working through conflicts.”

In addition to team-building, youth also discuss what it means to be substance free within the community. Youth discuss topics related to the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, an important measure of youth perceptions about their local communities. These topics include alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, mental health concerns, safety and more. With assistance from the Pennsylvania National Guard, youth report out the dangers of substance abuse, risk factors to youth achievement, and acknowledge activities and people that protect them in the community. As one youth commented, “All of the information I learned at camp opened my eyes to substance abuse. We need to be the change going forward and be more outspoken about ways to positively impact the community.”

Importantly, in 2018 our youth coalition chose a message of HOPE and dealing with depression. Youth worked on projects to support families in preventing opioid abuse and promoted ways families can bond with their children. Campers will be furthering this message via projects around researched data and Resilience in our communities this year.

CFY’s Leadership camp is a vital tool in our young people’s development. As they come to camp, they are greeted by several adult mentors who encourage them throughout the week. Camp registration is open till May 31. For youth interested in attending, please call Nate Sterner at 717-338-0300 ext. 102 or by email at youthdirector@cfygettysburg.com.

Submitted on behalf of Collaborating for Youth by Nate Sterner, youth director.

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