Developing Today’s Youth into Tomorrow’s Leaders  

News | Jennifer Dykes | July 25, 2022

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At YMCA Camp Cha-La-Kee, we believe we are called to build up the leaders of tomorrow. As Y summer camp counselors, young adults have the unique opportunity to gain confidence, improve overall self-esteem, engage with a diverse group of peers and ultimately prepare themselves for college and future careers. Counselors learn leadership skills built upon the YMCA's core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, and Equity. Camp counselors learn valuable lessons and skills that will last a lifetime.

Josh Maloney from Scotland
Josh Maloney from Scotland

Josh Maloney, 20, from Glasgow, Scotland, came to Camp Cha-La-Kee by way of Camp America, a cultural exchange summer camp staffing resource. As a cabin counselor and working with the Leadership In Training (LIT) and Counselor in Training (CIT) programs, Josh has enjoyed interacting with kids and staff from different cultural backgrounds and building new skills. “Leadership and communication skills were two areas that I needed improvement in when I first arrived at camp, and through the LIT and CIT program, I’ve been given the opportunity to help kids develop their own leadership skills while improving those skills within myself,” said Josh. “I’ll never forget my summer spent at Camp Cha-La-Kee and the impact the staff and kids had on my life.”

Carolina Cerezo from Mexico
Carolina Cerezo from Mexico

Carolina Cerezo, 22, and her sister, Andrea, 20, from Tlaxcala, Mexico, also joined us from Camp America. “The skills I developed while serving at Camp Cha-La-Kee were teamwork, leadership, patience, and critical thinking,” said Carolina. “I also learned to overcome some fears and grow personally. I met so many different personalities and I really appreciate all the experiences that I had with the campers and counselors.”

Andrea Cerezo from Mexico
Andrea Cerezo from Mexico

Andrea shared that her experience as a counselor taught her, “how to solve problems, make decisions and learn the value of the little things.” “Now I’m more confident, open, and enthusiastic about trying new things,” said Andrea. One of her favorite activities at camp is the giant swing where she loved watching the kids overcome their fears. “Whenever you’re preparing them with their harness and helmet, they tell you how excited or afraid they are, but I always try to make them feel safe and I tell them how amazing and happy they are going to feel if they try it. I’ve learned to tell myself the same thing about new experiences.” Andrea also enjoyed learning about other cultures at camp as many counselors were from different countries like Peru, China, Korea, Germany, and Canada. “They all have something new to show you and different perspectives on life,” said Andrea. “Camp Cha-La-Kee made me feel free to be myself and has helped me grow up in every way possible.”

The skills developed and experiences cultivated as a counselor at YMCA Camp Cha-La-Kee leave a lasting impact that extends far beyond camp. It builds a foundation for teen leaders to put their learning into action as they navigate college and their future careers.

Camp Cha-La-Kee - a place where young people thrive.

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