What year were you an active member of YWLC?
2015 – Present
What school do you currently attend?
Clear Brook High School
How did you learn about our camp?
I found out about YWLC while looking for the application for a camp called YLC.
What was your biggest takeaway and how has it impacted your life?
Prior to YWLC, I had always associated success with externalities — how I measured up to others, how they perceived me, etc.; the idea that I had the ability to define my own success and happiness was a romantic notion only available to me via self-help books and online success stories. However, YWLC provided a key revision to my preconceptions: success, for me, is a measure of self-esteem, a concept too intimate to be controlled by anyone other than oneself. I’ve learned to value my needs at the same level as those of others, which has empowered me to reevaluate the relationships in my life. I’ve always sought to fully invest in excitement and happiness when hearing about the achievements of others, but there was always an underlying sense of “wow-I-suck” that prevented me from ever getting there. Learning to separate my self-esteem and comparisons to those around me tore down that wall; I feel like I now not only have better relationships but am a better person to build a relationship with. Moreover, my self-esteem has taken enormous strides and I find myself choosing my passions over what is conventionally considered impressive more and more often.
What is your favorite thing about YWLC?
The mindset that people adopt during and after camp is one I wish everyone had. The supportive and nurturing nature of those I have met is not one that I come into contact with often or with such consistency throughout a group. Everyone at camp, and all of the alumni I have met are not just open to help but are active in fulfilling their promises. Beyond that, they’re all genuinely fun, open-minded, and well-informed people. Being a part of such a truly phenomenal community drives me to do more and dream more, and I feel both honored and privileged to be a member.
Tell us about some of your most recent successes!
Well, my self-esteem is potentially the highest it has ever been, but to recount some of my more conventional recent success: this year, I had the opportunity to create an organization at my school called Key Club (not the traditionally Kiwanis affiliated one — they don’t have any chapters near our school) as a follow through of our action project from YWLC. With the support of an amazing sponsor and some dedicated students, we’ve set up a high school workshop for middle school students, brightened up the green space between buildings at our high school, and are hoping to run a benefit gala and fundraisers for Pangea next year. Additionally, I’ll be the president Health Occupational Students of America, both at my school and for Area 2 in the coming year while also serving as the Senior Merit Secretary for National Honor Society. Also recently, I had the pleasure of mentoring with Dr. Jo, the chair of psychology and director of freshman symposium at UST whom I met at YWLC. In fact, the research I did with her during our mentorship about stereotype threat (the concept that groups with negative stereotypes conform to the negative expectations surrounding their demographics) helped me work with a teacher and another two students at my school to develop an initiative to combat stereotype threat in middle schools, which we’re hoping to launch in the upcoming school year. Most recently, I have been given the opportunity to spend a month teaching English in Taiwan through a program called AID (though unfortunately, it coincides with YWLC). I honestly feel like more than half of these are attributable to my participation in YWLC, and I’m forever grateful for all that I got from camp.