After a good inaugural year in 2011, Camp Lead Up has continued its success this summer, organizers said. The original vision of the Rev. Thomas Farrow Jr. and Sampson Middle School teacher Marcus Bass, the summer student leadership camp has exceeded all expectations, the stressed.
This year, after assimilating the evaluations from the 2011 camp, Farrow and Bass, along with the Camp Lead Up Committee, made some changes to the curriculum and program to enhance its offerings.
The first and possibly one of the major changes was the location for the camp. Last year, the camp was held at First Baptist Church, 900 College St., but this year the camp was moved to the campus of Sampson Community College.
Bass offered deep appreciation to the First Baptist family for use of its facilities during the camp’s first year, but said the committee believed a move would allow for an expanded educational experience, thus the move to SCC.
“We are so grateful to SCC and to Janet Hill, Jimmy Ezzell and Kimberly Philpot for all their help in meeting all our needs here. It is such a great experience for the middle school students to see what being on a college campus is like and how it differs from their regular public school,” remarked Bass.
This year, the camp grew, from 30 campers last year to 46 this year. The campers are made up of middle school students ranging in age from 11 to 15 and come from area schools, including Sampson Middlee, Roseboro-Salemburg Middle, Hobbton Middle and E. E. Smith Middle. There were even a few campers from out of state.
“We are looking on focusing on those campers from out of state next year as many grandparents have their grandchildren for the summer and this would be a great opportunity for them as well as our own local students,” expressed Bass.
Camp Lead Up focuses on teaching middle schools student to become leaders. The program assists them to create vision and goals for their future while understanding themselves and their abilities. The camp gives the young people a chance to interact with other teen leaders from across the county. There are opportunities for enhancing their communication and public speaking skills, as well as learning the importance of being a part of the community and giving back to the communities in which they live. The campers also receive valuable resources by networking with local and state leaders.
The sessions include subjects that help the campers develop academically, improve speaking and presentation skills, develop character and self awareness, and focus on community involvement. Each day has had a different theme. Monday the theme was Step Up and Lead. Tuesday the campers were encouraged to Step Up and Give and worked at the food bank, learning the importance of giving back, explained Bass. Wednesday’s theme was Work Up with Thursday’s theme entitled Listen Up. Friday was themed Surf Up and included a trip to the North Carolina Aquarium.
“It is important for the young people to learn that life is not all work and no fun, and Friday was designed for them to learn while, at the same time having fun,” expressed Bass.
The curriculum, though thought-provoking, was less rigid, another change brought about this year.
“We discovered that the campers and the counselors were better equipped to bring to light many of the topics we wanted to cover through their own discussions in group. Our counselors are high school juniors and seniors that have received training in leading groups and are very capable of taking a topic raised by the campers and running with it. With a daily theme that we are attempting to instill in these young people this new method of approaching the subjects has been most successful,” explained Bass.
Farrow agreed. “Camp Lead Up has been a tremendous success this year. We are truly seeing the work of God through the work of the community to lead these young people to learn many of the life skills needed to succeed in life, not only socially and in the workplace but also spiritually. It has been amazing to see these young people learn many of the communication skills, mannerisms and professional requirements be a success in life,” remarked the pastor.
Preparing young people for their future, he added, was a key focus of the camp.
“What we attempt to do in Camp Lead Up is prepare future leaders for their roles in society. We planned a host of activities across the county that helped provide a deeper sense of citizenship for students in their community,” cited Bass.
Second-year camper Kristal McCalop shared that she came back to camp this year because she learned so much the first time around, having fun in the process.
“Camp Lead Up is really great. You get to meet a lot of different people and learn a lot that will help me in making future career choices. You have a lot of fun but you also learn a lot,” commented McCalop.
Terence Wallace is a first-year camper and he shared that he had heard a lot about the camp and school and decided to give it a try.
“Camp has been all I was expecting and more. The educational trips have been great. We visited the jail and I saw people there I knew. Just by visiting the jail, I have decided not to get in trouble by doing drugs or drinking alcohol as I make life choices,” said Wallace.
Second-year counselor Steven Williamson, a senior at Clinton High School, shared that this year’s camp had been even more exciting and informative for the campers and counselors as well.
“Even though I live here in Sampson County, I am still amazed at all there is to offer people here. Visiting the Sampson County History Museum, the courthouse and the jail are eye-opening experiences. There are so many opportunities that we miss out right here in Sampson County. As a counselor, it is exciting to visit these places and introduce the campers to them. This year has been different, first by being on campus here at Sampson Community College, but also by the way we have conducted our classes with the students controlling the discussion with our guidance. It has made the topics we have covered more interesting and I feel the campers have learned more for the changes that have been made,” expressed Williamson.
Taryn White, who just graduated from Clinton High in June and will be attending East Carolina University this fall, was a first year counselor for Camp Lead Up.
“I heard how much fun camp was last year and I wanted to get involved. Not only do the campers learn about themselves but it has been a very eye-opening experience for the counselors as well. I learned things that will even assist me as I head of to ECU this fall,” said White.
The camp, Bass said, wouldn’t be possible without the help of those who support it.
“We are entirely funded through donations. Because so many people have seen that leadership is so important to our young people that they have given generously to make Camp Lead Up possible. I also wish to thank our staff who have gone above and beyond our expectations doing what was asked of them in leading the camp. They have certainly modeled what we are trying to teach our campers,” cited Bass.