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Camp As Usual? Not at These Summer Leadership Experiences

How Unique Summer Camps are Helping Kids Learn to Lead

If your teen is looking for a summer camp experience that’s focused on building leadership skills, confidence, and character, look no further than some of the fantastic opportunities offered in the greater Maryland area.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Student Leadership Summer Expeditions

High school students (including rising ninth graders) who want to save the Bay and make a difference in their communities can gain first hand experience in advocacy, civic engagement, and watershed health campaigns on one of CBF’s Student Leadership Summer Expeditions.

Week-long expeditions are held throughout the Chesapeake (in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania) and give students the opportunity to learn from regional experts and scientists and network with their peers.

Rick Mittler, a CBF Student Leadership Coordinator, says expeditions allow students to immerse themselves in everything pertaining to saving the Bay and provide a solid foundation for a future in environmental advocacy.

“Student leaders travel to unique places, have real-world experiences with local community leaders, scientists, and professionals, and get their hands dirty and wet as they investigate the world around them,” he explains. “Each of these one-of-a-kind expeditions equips students to become the next generation of environmental leaders, whether they are now just beginning their journey or are seasoned veterans. Student leaders acquire new skills and a deeper knowledge and appreciation for saving the Bay.”

Maia Ferreyra, who attended a Leadership Expedition in 2021, says she was able to learn from both educators and her peers to affect positive change.

“The conversations that Student Leaders have about the Bay help us better understand why saving the Bay is important and allow us to take the knowledge we learn in these experiences and spread it to our own communities,” she says.

To learn more about this summer’s planned expeditions, visit www.cbf.org/join-us/education-program/student-leadership/summer-expeditions.

Montgomery County Summer Leadership Challenge

Offered by Montgomery County Recreation Youth Development, the Summer Leadership Challenge is a two-week program for kids ages 13 through 16. The SLC features interactive workshops in a number of areas including leadership, job readiness, and teambuilding with the goal of helping participants prepare for future positions and leadership opportunities. SLC sessions then conclude with a Capstone project to benefit the local community. 

“The goal (of the Summer Leadership Challenge) is to empower participants to inspire positive changes within themselves and within their community,” explains Marhonda Williams, Manager of Montgomery County Recreation Youth Development. “Teenagers establish lasting friendships, develop a sense of responsibility, learn to work effectively in groups, build accountability, and gain the confidence to solve problems independently.”

For more information about the Summer Leadership Challenge, visit www.mocorec.com

USNA Summer Seminar

For juniors hoping to make the United States Naval Academy their college choice, Summer Seminar offers the opportunity for prospective students to get a first hand look at the USNA experience. 

Academy faculty and midshipmen lead Summer Seminar candidates in a week of physical, academic, and moral training. From learning the ins and outs of daily life at USNA, participating in mock Sea Trials, and engaging in a variety of academic workshops, high schoolers immerse themselves in what it takes to be a midshipman and a leader at the storied school on the Severn. 

To learn more about USNA’s Summer Seminar, head to www.usna.edu/Admissions/Programs/NASS

Maryland Leadership Workshops

For the campers (known as delegates, in this case) who chose to enroll in Maryland Leadership Workshops, it’s a sure bet that they’ll leave the experience with two things: leadership prowess and friends for life. Just ask Rick Gross, former MLW camper and counselor and now the camp’s Program Specialist. 

“The skills that we developed from MLW are skills that we use for a lifetime,” Gross says, noting that the friendships forged are equally long lasting.  

Anita Anderson, Director of Development and Engagement for Leadership Maryland, says the camp operates on the premise that all delegates have the capacity to become effective leaders.

“We go in with the philosophy that everyone has the potential to be a leader, and it’s our job to draw that out and give them the environment where they can explore that.”

From exploring ethics and diversity to honing leadership styles and engaging in social activities, MLW helps delegates work through the processes, successes, and challenges of leadership.

“Our goal for the whole program is that when they (the delegates) leave at the end of the week, they have the skills, the tools, and the motivation and the confidence to become leaders in their homes, in their schools, and in their communities,” Anderson says. 

For Gross, the workshops also give delegates who might not normally have the chance to lead in their everyday lives the opportunity to do just that and apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings.

“Our delegates are making leadership decisions. Good ones, bad ones. We’re helping them manage those things so by the time that they get back to school, not only are they more confident, but they’re more experienced.”

Visit http://mlw.org/summer-programs for more information. 

By Laura Adams Boycourt

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