With summer underway, Marcus Bass is continuing a tradition that helps students become better leaders and strive for greatness.
The Camp Lead-Up Summer Leadership Development Institute began Monday and will continue through Saturday, July 14 for rising freshmen and sophomores. Now in its eighth year, the program allows youths to work with a staff of trained council leaders and professional education facilitators. Bass serves as a leader and organizer for the program.
“We’ve been able to take young people from Sampson County and surrounding areas and bring them to a college setting for a week,” Bass said. “It’s incredible and we’re very excited. The students coming this year are very high excelling students.”
For the upcoming session, participants will be on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“This is the largest college campus that we’ve been on,” Bass said. “During this week, we have a lot of different activities planned for the students, that are going to really help them understand the difference between being passionate about a career and really understanding what it takes to get that job, career or skill.”
In addition to leadership development, some of the other opportunities include conflict resolution, team building, event planning and social media practices.
“There’s a lot of need for us to continue to look at our young people,” he said “When we see what’s happening in the country these days, the young people have to digest that and the only way they’re able to understand what’s happening is if we put them in settings where they can see themselves being professional and making professional decisions.”
Camp Lead-Up started in Sampson County at First Baptist Church. A few years later, the camp was held at Sampson Community College and Wake Technical College. In 2017, Camp Lead-Up came to Johnson C. Smith University.
This year’s camp is dedicated to the memory of E.R. Mason, a former Clinton City Schools (CCS) board member, chairman, and deacon of First Baptist Church. Bass said he was a supporter of education across the state.
“He along with former education great the late Williams Whitaker were very strong and vocal supporters of camp lead-up from our very first summer,” Bass said. “It was Mr. Mason who worked with me and former Pastor Thomas Farrow to secure the initial funding from the church and other community members for the first Camp Lead-Up.”
Bass said the program becomes more popular each year. This year, 40 students including 12 from Sampson County School and CCS will be joining others from Wayne, New Hanover, Wake, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties. For the first time, there was a waiting list to join.
“One of the things that I’m finding now is that more parents and students are recognizing Camp Lead-Up,” Bass said. “Our numbers are growing.”
After the program ends, Camp Lead-Up continues to work with students throughout their high school experience.
Camp Lead-Up work with local school districts and churches to find students who’ll benefit from the program. Bass and members are grateful for the financial support from the community, which allows youths to participate at no cost. Donations are accepted online at www.campleadup.org and through First Baptist Church, 900 College St., Clinton.
“We’re excited that the community has stuck with us and we’re thankful for all the sponsors,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a great year.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.