The Next Generation Community Leaders retreat at YMCA Camp Ockanickon was filled with fun and learning opportunities, and as our second team of youth began their journey to become health and wellness leaders, they were also challenged.
For our Paterson YouthCares team, this was their first opportunity to spend any time together. This meant making new friends and leaning about students they didn’t already know. For some, this may have felt challenging. But for this group of youth, there were other challenges to face. As an example, it was the first time a number of them had gone camping, slept in a cabin, or experienced the world outside of city life. They met bugs they had never seen, swam in a lake for the first time, and canoed through narrow canals toward the same wide-open lake. It took courage and strength that many didn’t know they possessed, and they did it all with grace while fighting their fears.
Is there a connection between being a leader and being able to face your fears?
Is there a connection between being a leader and being able to face your fears? It is clear that there is. For some of the youth, stepping into the canoe for the first time helped them realize they can now help others do things that scare them. And walking across a log, high in the air, was a test of sheer willpower, and that willpower is what will help them relate to individuals in their community who struggle every day. We know there will be times during this year when these youth will need to do things that they have never done before, or things that scare them. For example, presenting a project using the PechaKucha format alone, as our first cohort did, can make a person shake with fear, but we know that by doing it, they will grow as leaders.
This Paterson YouthCares team has already begun to demonstrate leadership skills during our meetings where they hear from community health professionals about issues they might want to tackle. They are asking good questions and looking beyond the surface of a problem to work together as a group. All of these skills are signs of up-and-coming leaders.