Leadership Development Camp Transforms Students Into “Community of Leaders”

by Jasmine Han, Communications Dept. Summer Intern

Since March 2016, high school and college age Red Cross volunteers have been planning and training for the annual five-day Red Cross Los Angeles Region Leadership Development Camp (LDC), which was held this year on August 1 -5 at Pilgrim’s Pines in Yucaipa.

LDC is a 5-day overnight camp held for high school students to build confidence and cultivate core leadership skills such as teamwork, public speaking, and diversity/cultural understanding. The camp is completely planned and staffed by high school and college youth.

This year, we welcomed over 85 delegates to LDC along with over 50 trained staffers. Delegates went through leadership intensive sessions each morning and spent their nights engaged in fun activities, such as the hike, dance, and banquet. For so many years, LDC has been successful in creating a community of leaders.

Below are some observations from this year’s participants:

Kevin Xufirst year staffer, shared how the LDC magic touched his life:

“What made me personally feel the LDC ‘magic’ was really the environment that the staff and delegates created. This environment was caring, loving, and friendly, and I was able to freely express my own thoughts without fear of others’ judgments. This made me feel safe, and I truly felt that this place was my second home. Through this one week at camp, worries were set aside and our individual differences were embraced at camp.”

Uniss Tan, first year staffer, gave an account of how camp pushed her and others outside of their comfort zone:

“One of the best parts about LDC is watching someone ‘break out of their shell.’ It is amazing to watch people open up and change their perspective. As someone who was painfully shy and self-conscious as a delegate, I know how hard it is to separate yourself from the  judgments of others and be more of yourself. I came into LDC refusing to talk during the banquet, and the camp has turned me into someone who doesn’t hesitate to scream her lungs out for her clan. The lack of narrow-minded judgment during the five days of LDC truly draws out the best in a person, which is why it is important for anyone to have this experience.”

Kaitlyn Chen, first year delegate, talked about her experience at LDC:

“I had a really, really, REALLY amazing time at LDC. When I first arrived at camp, I was extremely nervous. I have to admit that I was really shy and so introverted. However, day-by-day, I started to see that I didn’t have to keep the fears and the loneliness inside of me because there were others who were facing the exact same situation as me. There were others who were willing to keep me upright when I fell and even more so, there were others who will never leave my side. [pullquote]I don’t think I’ve ever met so many people who were so loving, encouraging, and just willing to open their hearts to each other. [/pullquote]

I found a quote in a magazine that wowed me because it truly described my experience at LDC – ‘Its weird how much you can fit into a week… and how different your life can become.’ LDC has become a second family to me, one that I will always treasure in my heart.”

Like others who shared their testimonies about LDC, the camp has also played an integral role in my life. I have been attending LDC over the last 4 years, with the last 3 years as a staff member. I have grown as a leader myself since my first year attending. I recall being one of the many shy delegates who was hesitant to perform at the Talent Show or go up on stage and give a presentation. But LDC has given me the confidence and support system to join the Advisory Board and be one of the members who spearhead the new lessons for LDC and provide for the same experiences to both staff and delegates alike.

For those who’ve never been to LDC, no explanation is possible. For those who’ve been to LDC, no explanation is necessary.

(Jasmine is beginning her sophomore year at Chapman College and previously served as president of the Red Cross club at Mark Keppel High School and on the Arcadia Chapter’s Executive Board.)

 

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