Nate Sterner

Nate Sterner

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, one of the ways this happens is through Youth Leadership Camp.

During the last week of June, 20 high school youth participated in camp to further develop their leadership skills. The skills gained at camp will last a lifetime and help to develop our community’s leadership pipeline. Camp has provided hundreds of students with essential leadership skills to make positive changes in the community.

The Gettysburg Hospital Foundation has been monumental in their efforts of supporting CFY and the leadership development of high school youth. With a gracious grant, campers were provided materials to aide in their progress as leaders.

Collaborating For Youth’s Leadership Camp occurred June 24-28, at Camp Thompson. Every aspect of camp promoted appropriate and positive leadership skills. This included time management, leading organized activities, camp service projects, public speaking, and listening. It offered a structured environment for youth on how to prepare meals, take responsibility, and increase social skills.

For many campers, this was the highlight of their summer. For youth that have attended camp in prior years, they had an opportunity to attend as “Junior Mentors.” Junior Mentors are part of the Camp Support Team that helps new campers sharpen their own personal leadership skills and problem solve with their group. These Junior Mentors play a vital part of the Leadership Camp as they are striving to perhaps one day come back as an Adult Mentor.

In addition to team building, youth also discussed what it means to be substance free within the community. Youth discussed topics related to the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, an important measure of youth perceptions about their local communities. Twenty of the youth were placed in four groups and discussed topics with the Pennsylvania National Guard. These topics included underage drinking, tobacco, vaping, and marijuana. Youth then developed an action plan which discussed the dangers of substance abuse, risk factors to youth achievement, and their steps to build resiliency in the Adams County community.

Importantly, in 2018 the Youth Coalition chose a message of HOPE and dealing with mental health concerns. In 2019, the youth will be continuing the HOPE message while using their own leadership styles and skills to build resiliency. The Youth Coalition will take their knowledge gained from the PA National Guard, the PAYS data, and from camp, to support families in preventing opioid abuse as well as promote ways families can bond with their children.

Collaborating For Youth’s Leadership Camp is a vital tool in our young leader’s development. Positive leadership skills are built from the ground up, one positive interaction at a time!

Nate Sterner is the youth director at The Center For Youth and Community Development in Gettysburg. He can be reached at youthdirector@cfygettysburg.com or by phone at 717-338-0300.

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