By Jasmin Devi Taylor for Kaselehlie Press
Late last month in Kosrae, Peace Corps Volunteers alongside the Kosrae Women’s Center hosted Camp Glow, a girls empowerment camp, which for the first time was managed by teens who participated in a peer counselor training program funded by the Bank of Guam.
The peer counselor training program was designed by a Kosrae teacher, Coleen Joel and Peace Corps Volunteer, Jasmin Taylor. The goal, to teach youth to lead youth programs in turn creating sustainable youth camps led with local leadership. By completing the peer counselor training, high school girls were given the opportunity to manage the camp schedule, activities and campers of the fourth Camp Glow to take place in Kosrae.
The project was approved for funding in Spring 2017 by Bank of Guam’s Vice President, Director of Customer Service, Lesley-Anne Leon Guerrero, as apart of the organization’s Find Kind program, an initiative that allows the bank to give back to the community through what they call #randomactsofbog.
“Bank of Guam was founded on the very idea of supporting our communities and helping our people succeed. So throwing our sponsorship and support behind Camp Glow and the mission it sets out to achieve was an easy decision,” said Leon Guerrero.
Last April, applications for the peer counselor positions were open to high school students that demonstrated leadership qualities and good academic standing. The final group of four 14 to 16 year-olds were chosen to train as the first Camp Glow Kosrae peer counselors.
The trainees attended a series of workshops during the school year where they learned how to build the summer camp from the ground up. They began by learning how to approach local organizations and government leaders for in-kind and financial donations to support the camp, and voiced their opinions to counterparts regarding issues they face in their communities in order to develop camp sessions on peer pressure, female health and the theme of the camp, “uniting to add value to our traditions and culture.”
The final part of the peer counselor training was a two-day overnight intensive program where the group made final preparations for the camp. This included learning to lead a series of teamwork activities, manage the camp schedule and lastly test their new leadership skills in a mock camp setting. At the end of the two-day training the girls received certificates acknowledging their ability to successfully lead Camp Glow Kosrae 2017.
“It’s so important to give youth the responsibility of being roles models,” said Utwe Elementary School Teacher Coleen Joel, who helped spearhead the project. “The camp has evolved with the peer counselor positions, the campers now have connections with girls close to their age, so when they get to high school they have someone to rely on and help guide them,” Joel added.
Camp Glow Kosrae 2017 took place July 24 to 25 and was attended by 25 upcoming ninth grade girls from all four Kosrae municipalities. The campers participated in handicraft sessions and interviewed successful women in business, including Bank of Guam Kosrae Branch Manager Gwendolyn San Nicolas. The girls also toured The Green Banana factory, which makes paper products using banana fiber, along with participating in goal setting, peer pressure and female health workshops.
“The idea of empowering, educating and supporting young ladies through this camp is important to not just supporting our communities as whole but about supporting these individuals who are entering into the next phase of their lives… who hopefully will go on to join us in our efforts to further support their people and the communities they live in,” added Leon Guerrero.