Khandace has participated in Camp Harbor View’s summer program for the past three years. She began as a camper and then joined the 9th grade pilot program this past school year to prepare her to be a Leader in Training (LIT) at Camp Harbor View this summer.
“I think team building is the most important thing I’ve learned at Camp Harbor View,” Khandace said. “At camp we meet kids from all over the city, from different neighborhoods and different backgrounds. We’re all together on the same island each day, so we learn to cooperate with each other and communicate clearly with each other.”
Khandace isn’t alone in developing teamwork skills at Camp Harbor View; in conversation with former campers it is repeatedly brought up as an essential component of their camp experience.
“It’s given me strong team building skills,” Dayton, a first year LIT, said. “That’s what we work on all year.”
One exercise that helps campers learn communication and teamwork is the trolley walk activity. Groups of campers face two wooden planks with ropes attached and must move from one place to another with one foot on each plank.
“It was a struggle at first because we weren’t communicating well and we were all just yelling at each other,” Jaylen, another first year LIT, said. “I always wanted my ideas to be heard and done, and I wanted it to be about myself, but it helped me work as a member of a team and hear other people out.”
Located on Long Island in the Boston Harbor, the summer camp program teaches youth like Khandace, Dayton, and Jaylen important life skills. In addition to classic summer camp activities like swimming, boating, team sports, games, music, and arts and crafts, Camp Harbor View offers opportunities that build confidence, stimulate creativity, and develop the leadership skills students need in school and beyond. Activities at Camp Harbor View, like the high ropes course, require teamwork, problem solving, and communication.
“What sets this camp apart from other camps is that it allows inner-city kids to just have a chance to get away from all the problems they deal with at home or in their neighborhoods,” Khandace said. “Even though it’s summer camp and they want us to have fun throughout the process, they help us develop skills that will be important in work and further in life.”
Along with the summer learning taking place for middle schoolers on the island, former campers receive year-round support through the 9th grade RISE program and then the three-year Leader in Training program for young people in grades 10 through 12 at Camp Harbor View’s Leadership Academy in the South End. In addition to being employed as peer counselors during the summer, LITs are paired with an advisor to ensure students reach their potential through high school and beyond.
“Each month of the year we work on different skills. One of the most important to me is professional skills – how to build a resume, how to look for certain jobs that appeal to you, and what you think you’ll be comfortable with,” Khandace said. “To become an LIT this summer we had an interview, and they wanted us to be prepared and come with questions so we were prepared for future job interviews.”
Camp Harbor View’s mission is to help kids envision new pathways to success by providing life-shaping experiences at a critical time in their lives. By uncovering dreams, nurturing visions, and launching aspirations, Camp Harbor View aims to change lives and transform communities.
The framework of Camp Harbor View models and instills the core values of fun, respect, responsibility, character, courage, and community. The structure of physical and group challenges, leadership development, and connection with peers allows young participants to grow as individuals and as a community.
As Executive Director Lisa Fortenberry explains, “we want the youth and families we serve to feel supported and invested in every step of the way. From four weeks of summer fun and new experiences as middle school-aged campers to year-round leadership development programs throughout high school, we seek to provide them the resources they need to realize their potential.”