TWP-The Youth Movement a local youth development non-profit organization in partnership with the City of Norfolk Department of Recreation Parks & Open Space, offered Camp Inspired, four two-week long teen summer camps free to Norfolk teens in rising grades 7-12. In addition to many recreation and personal growth opportunities, leadership training is a core focus of the camp. Leadership attributes are taught using Learn 2 Lead®, a curriculum-driven, peer-led instructional approach written and developed by the Lighthouse Project.
Camp Inspired is led by teen peer educators who mentor other teens regarding issues youth face today including HIV/STD prevention and awareness, bullying and conflict resolution, distracted driving, dating violence and abuse and peer pressure. During summer 2011, Camp Inspired was offered for two two-week session for 60 Norfolk Teens. This summer, Camp Inspired doubled both in length four two-week sessions and in size, serving 120 Teens in 2012 and 2013. Upon completion of each two-week session, teens had the opportunity to join the Teens With a Purpose organization as a Peer Educator & Facilitator-in-Training.
During the Camp, local artists dedicated their time and talents to facilitate special workshops including Digital Storytelling by WHRO, Videography 101 with Jules Ferguson and Ariane Aramburo Ferguson of the Hampton Roads show, Music production, Voice Lessons, Gardening and Art Workshops. Many other local artists also came to the camp to provide a once in a lifetime experience for the campers. Videography 101 taught campers the in’s and out’s of video production. They wrote, produced and starred in original short films. Camps produced a variety of short films, which were premiered at the graduation ceremony on the last Thursday of every graduation and posted on the Teens With a Purpose YouTube’s channel.
TWP started a community garden at the VCM Teen Center in the spring of 2013. At the beginning of each day, teens were given the opportunity to work in the community garden, planting, watering and weeding. Sessions rotated between garden time and personal growth time. At Graduation, campers made salads and foods featuring the vegetable and fruits from the garden to share with their families. As part of promoting healthy living and eating, campers visited Five Point Farmers Market and Whole Foods for lunch and a tour. The campers reunited on September 14th for TWP’s annual event: F.U.S.E. Teen Fest, which stands for Focusing on peace, Unity, Spirit and Edu-Tainment. The garden was officially dedicated at the Teen event sponsored by Norfolk Recreation Parks & Open Space (NRPOS) and Teri and Scott Rigell. The campers conducted their very own workshop STAND UP! Addressing bullying.
Last, but not least, campers were exposed to the best Hampton Roads has to offer in local attractions. “We want the teens to receive the best and to experience things they wouldn’t normally experience,” says Deirdre Love, Executive Director of Teens With a Purpose. Local explorations included field trips to a Norfolk Tides baseball game at Harbor Park, Ocean Breeze, Triple R Ranch, Nauticus, Rockwall climbing, kayaking, swimming, the aquarium and a few backyard BBQs with water action.
The goal is to mesh peer-education, unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences and fun into a summer enrichment camp for teens. The education methods are fresh and innovative and the educators are their peers, so they speak to the teens in their language. Camp Inspired is for, by and about teens and they are creating a new “cool” where being leaders in their communities is the thing to do.