Todd, a former Camp Hollygrove participant, has been helping once a week this fall with Endless Summer, Hollygrove’s after school program. Here’s how we encouraged Todd’s emerging leadership skills.
As Camp Hollygrove was set to begin this summer, we came across a familiar referral, Todd, who first joined us for camp when he was 10 years old. Now 15, he will be repeating ninth grade due to low grades. Todd struggles at home with his mom and younger siblings and with the environment he’s living in, a neighborhood where gangs are active.
Like many of our kids, Todd comes from a severely impoverished family that struggles to get basic needs met. To attend camp, he had to take two public buses, which meant getting up at 6:00 a.m. to be at camp by 8:30 a.m. On the first day of camp he arrived even earlier and ready to go.
Todd immediately gravitated toward helping with morning snack, lunch and clean up. The camp counselors reported what a wonderful job he was doing interacting with his younger peers and modeling camp values.
So we offered Todd a youth counselor opportunity, which meant he would be at Hollygrove for five weeks during the summer. Todd was excited when presented with the idea and shocked that he was being considered. We said that he was doing a wonderful job and really growing up.
For five full weeks he arrived early and set up snacks and lunch. He arranged the snack bars beautifully, showing pride in his work—and smiling when kids and staff showed their surprise and appreciation.
On week three, the staff took him on a surprise shopping spree for clothes, to build his self esteem, validate all his hard work and prep him for a new school year. Inside the store, Todd stopped and looked around for a good two minutes. One staff member said, “You can choose whatever you want. What size do you wear?” Todd didn’t know his shirt, pants or shoe size. He replied, “Whatever fits.”
As he tried on outfits his smile grew bigger and bigger. Afterward, all he could talk about was trying his best in school and how he was getting along better with his mom.
Throughout camp, Todd was immersed in an environment where his strengths were acknowledged and dreams cultivated. No matter what lies ahead, he will always have the knowledge that for five weeks he was responsible and successful. He now has a reference point to build on.
Both Endless Summer and Camp Hollygrove are only made possible through gifts by donors like you. Help someone like Todd today.