Skip to main content

Youth Experience Self-Discovery and Comradery in Nature

By Travis Smith, Beacons program manager
Social Share

Last month saw the official kickoff of the 2019-2020 Beacons Afterschool Program season with hundreds of youth from various Minneapolis schools retreating to Camp Ihduhapi in Loretto, MN for an opportunity of a lifetime, Beacons Leadership Camp!

Getting Away: Experiencing the Woods

About 140 of our middle school students from Franklin Middle School, Hmong International Academy, Anne Sullivan/Anishinabe, Anwatin, North East, Olson Middle School, KIPP Academy and City View were among the campers. For many, the opportunity to visit nature (i.e. the woods) is an experience they may not have had without Beacons – and it’s trip that may spark a lifelong hobby.

Helping Youth Become Leaders & Build Comradery

The aim of the day-long retreat was to provide Beacons youth with opportunities to develop leadership skills and confidence via a rustic environment, develop action plans for community service projects, build comradery with their fellow youth from across the city who are going through some of the same growing pains, build a sense of teamwork and cooperation, and add fuel to their light as the beckoners of a better tomorrow!

Youth Discovering Imagination, Self-Love and Their “Why”

Imagine 165 gorgeous acres of forest and prairie landscapes, punctuated with a lake and filled with jubilant, youthful joy. A stellar group of high school leaders, known as the “Big Homies,” served as stewards to guide their “little homies” (middle schoolers) throughout the day.

Camp activities included fun field games, an intense boxing training to release stress, and workshops that provided opportunities for youth to “find their flow,” discover self-love, learn how to “be real,” and there was even a time to practice “magical realism” in an attempt for the youth to find their “why” in life.

Reflecting on the Day

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” ― Sylvia Plath

After a day filled with self-discovery and activities that challenged the mind and body, the youth were given an opportunity to wind down and reflect on all they had experienced during the camp day.

In a clear space, the imagination is free to run wild – unrestricted by the demands of the day-to-day. And for many of our youth, this happened! The smiles were for miles and the exuberance the youth exuded can’t be codified in words.

Learn more about Beacon Learning Centers

Donate to YWCA Minneapolis