Delaware News

Camp value: Overnighter gets students thinking

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As a high school sophomore, Becca Bauserman attended a one-day teen leadership camp.

Now in her senior year at Buckeye Valley High School, Bauserman is helping her fellow students learn leadership skills, gain confidence and stay drug- and alcohol-free.

She's set to be a youth staff member at the Stand Up Leadership Camp, an overnight retreat open to all high school students. Registration is open for the 2013 camp, which will run from 9 a.m. March 16 to 11:30 a.m. March 17 at Recreation Unlimited, 7700 Piper Road in Ashley.

The camp is a joint effort of the Delaware General Health District and Helpline of Delaware and Morrow Counties. It's run by a combination of adult staff members and students who were former campers.

Participants take part in a variety of activities to learn about violence prevention, healthy relationships, media literacy, physical fitness and staying drug-free.

Bauserman said she met other students committed to a positive, drug-free lifestyle when she first attended the camp in 2011.

"You just feel welcomed, and by the end, you feel empowered to make your school and your community a better place," she said.

Throughout the day, campers will hear speakers, play games and engage in conversations with other students, then end the night with a fun social dance.

The day starts with team-building games and icebreaker activities to get to know one another.

Participants are separated into small "family" groups of eight to 10 campers each. After each activity, they'll join their family group for an in-depth conversation.

"It gives them a chance to process the activities on a deeper level," said Katie Steinbrunner, health educator with the Delaware General Health District.

One speaker will talk about how to have the courage and confidence to make good choices. Other topics might include why it's important to set a good example for one's peers, how bullying at school has affected students, or how to stay active and healthy.

Helpline Prevention Educator Brande Urban has helped run the camp since it started three years ago. She said students benefit from meeting their classmates outside their school's social sphere.

"They connect with kids from all over the county and they start to see themselves as part of the bigger picture," she said. "They meet new people they can identify with and start to feel that they have a support network out there."

Bauserman said it also helped her get to know her own classmates.

"It's a really awesome way to meet different kinds of people, sometimes even people from my high school who I would never have gotten to know otherwise," she said.

In the evening, campers will view skits presented by the Olentangy Liberty High School Teen Advocates, a local teen leadership group.

At the end of the night, campers will participate in a social dance hosted by a disc jockey. The theme of this year's dance is "superheroes," and campers are invited to dress up in costumes if they wish.

Students will sleep in bunk beds in on-site cabins.

On March 17, the program will end with a presentation about cyberbullying and activities to get students thinking about how they can start making positive changes at their own schools, Steinbrunner said.

Registration is $15 per student. Meals and a T-shirt are included. Space is limited to 75 campers.

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