By: Alexsys Wasse, Youth Executive Board Officer, Antelope Valley
(The first week of August, nearly 80 Los Angeles Region Red Cross Youth members traveled to the San Gabriel Mountains for the Region’s annual youth Leadership Development Camp (LDC). Under the guidance of 50 young adult alumni staff, the youth learned leadership skills – including time management, goal setting, public speaking and marketing skills – in a hands-on, interactive environment. Here is a first-hand account from a happy camper.)
Attending Leadership Development Camp (LDC) was the most valuable and life-changing experience I have ever had. As a first-timer, I was unsure about what to expect, but I left with a feeling of empowerment. My personal leadership skills were honed through the various activities, and I even discovered skills that I didn’t know I had. More importantly, I gained a new appreciation and a better understanding of all the remarkable components of the American Red Cross.
The LDC activities were always creative and ensured that all campers participated. I was pleasantly pushed out of my comfort zone and encouraged to converse with others I didn’t know, which was a personal goal of mine. For example, during the “Speakeasy” activity, campers were allowed to reveal their inner-most secrets and openly share their feelings. I took the initiative to speak first, and as a result, I slowly built my courage to speak and set the tone for future activities. The Speakeasy activity also showed me how so many of us have similar experiences, and that I have the opportunity to be a role model for others.
Another one of my favorite activities involved standing-up for those being bullied and learning how to handle those situations in the safest way possible. Since I was bullied in my younger years, I wish that I had these skills when I needed them for myself. Nevertheless, I am now in a position to help others with my newfound skills from LDC. The activity that impacted me the most dealt with learning not to judge others based on looks or affiliations, but rather getting to know them as individuals. This approach to interacting with others is not only useful as a Red Cross volunteer, but also in other real-life experiences with people.
There were so many things that I enjoyed about my LDC experience. The staff’s positive, warm, and inviting demeanor put me at ease and made me feel welcome throughout my entire journey. From the time I arrived to the moment of my departure, I enjoyed and appreciated the “home away from home” feeling that was created. I remember when I first arrived to Pilgrim Pines, we were greeted by staff screaming and yelling with posters to welcome us. When I entered my cabin, I was amazed as to how creative my staff leaders were with decorating the cabin. Our cabin name was S-town and we rocked! I also liked the fact that LDC is different from other camps because they made educational activities fun and gave us useful tools to use out in the world, like resume writing and professional interview practice.
The knowledge that I acquired from my experience at LDC has prepared me for job-hunting, public speaking and most importantly to me, emergency preparedness. I now know how to create a first aid kit, and I also know the importance of the Seven Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross, which I can now share with my local youth volunteers. Overall, Leadership Development Camp was life-altering for me, and I am forever grateful for my experience. The staff and delegates hold a special place in my heart, and I truly felt the LDC Magic in the air!