July 30 2015

When you go camping in the middle of the Sierra Nevada Valley with around 98 youth from all over California you think there’s going to be some drama right? Also taking all electronics away from them for a whole week so that they are inclined to interact with other youth at camp? And only 51 mentors are there watching over all these youth to insure everyone’s safety and fun?

Most people would think that this was poorly planned. If I told you that there were hardly any problems, would you believe me? Well it’s true. Makes you curious how these outnumbered mentors kept all those youth calm and collected. It’s simple, each of the mentors have unique skills that draws respect from the youth. No matter where you are from, if you carry yourself right then you gain respect.

All the youth, myself included, come from different cities, different schools, different neighborhoods, different backgrounds, etc. You would think that is what makes us different, but actually it’s what unites us. Day one we were all getting to know who was in our cabins, introducing ourselves to one another as a mutual respect. We all came together and made guidelines that we would all follow through the week.

Bob Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment, welcomes the young men to camp.
Bob Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment, welcomes the young men to camp.

Day two we started to get to know one another and testing the waters (boundaries), so that we wouldn’t offend each other. As the week went, all of us youth began to bond with each other, including the mentors and staff of SNJ (Sierra Nevada Foundry). All our tribe group activities helped us build trust, leadership, and teamwork. We taught each other different ways of thinking, new games, and most of all our true selves. It was nice knowing that being at camp, no one was going to judge you for who you are. Instead we accepted each other as family. United under the teachings from our mentors we became family.

Making new friends!
Making new friends!

We learned about our culture and why culture is important. We learned about social justice and that we can’t blame the system on our problems. Instead, learn the system and remove those that are the cause of our problems, replacing them with people that will solve our issues.

Everyday had respect, spirituality, and love integrated into all of the teachings. The camp was a memorable experience not just for me but everyone that attended. What I learned is we as human beings are shackled by the teachings and practices that stop our growth. We use discrimination and stereotypes to group and label people out of fear, anger, or resentment.

Young men engage in exercise to build trust among each other.
Young men engage in exercise to build trust among each other.

David Cuschieri said “The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy. Learn to use power wisely.”

So we must break these shackles if we want to live in a world of love. This quote grasps everything we learned over the week. I was happy and blessed to meet my new family from camp. Palabra & Ashe.

Comments are closed.