Teen Leadership Program

There’s a lot of work to do right now on this planet to support our generations. For over 20 years one of our main goals in our youth leadership program has been to ensure that our youth leaders have a relevant, fun, experiential and creative environment to gain and practice the skills they need in this complex world. Our Teen Leadership Programs are two and three week sessions every summer for 3 years, which offers you and your youth a continuity of care, community and building of skills over time. Though we are a 3 year program, your teen can apply at age 15, 16 or 17. Our programming is designed so that each year is beneficial as a stand alone session.

All young leaders ages 15-17 who are seeking advancement in leadership and life skills welcome to apply for our program.

Real World Skills

There is a lot of information about “essential life skills to equip your teen for the real world”. One thing that is universal in the literature is that school/academics cannot give our youth everything that’s needed to prepare them to reach for their star.

With our Unique Youth Leadership Strengths/Needs Assessment we can create an individually specific program to build on your youth’s strengths to meet their needs.

Here are some of the skills we focus on:

  • building healthy relationships and community including exploring a healthy self-image
  • exploring allyship, marginalization, creating safe spaces, interrupting bigotry and asking questions
  • creating body positive attitudes and a culture of consent
  • communication skills; including 1:1, in groups, public speaking, working cooperatively
  • how to lead, how to follow, a willingness to accept responsibility
  • the power of negotiation
  • identifying their passion
  • the art of failing
  • time management including adaptability and flexibility
  • physical cpr/first aid and mental health first aid
  • restorative justice practices/conflict resolution
  • all the skills that come with taking care of other people’s children and helping to teach classes
The Many Ways We Build Skills

Life skills are built, layer by layer. Every person learns at their own pace with their own style. This is the beauty of using Camp as our classroom and “on the job training” for Teen Leaders – there are endless learning opportunities that are naturally a part of being involved in the community. Our Adult Staff to Teen Leader ratio is 2:1 with 3 dedicated adults working full time with our leaders.

At Winnarainbow we use “skilled coaching” – which involves unlocking people’s potential through asking questions, giving room for them to figure things out and imparting knowledge.

Every teen is part of a tipi community, providing support and caring for their Campers. Being a Teen Staff Leader in a tipi community is one of the main roles our teen leaders fulfill. Teen and Adult Staff work closely together to provide a network of support for campers – to create inclusion, community, honor of story and compassion. Adult Staff (Counselors and Advocates) coach Teen Leaders in the above areas using all the real life situations that occur in the community.

Teen leaders also have the opportunity to assist teachers in skills classes. Understanding class management, how to break down skills to learnable units, understanding camper’s individual needs are foundational skills that they can build on.

Teen Leaders also have real life skill practice through our daily jobs. These include: provide structured supervision/activities alongside an Adult Staff during free times; assisting with meal set up, serving and clean up; assist in the camp office; assist in the kitchen with meal prep/clean-up (ServSafe required); help to manage the Camp Store; Lifeguarding; assisting with Offering Restorative Justice (ORJ) activities; work with the sound and light department to produce shows; provide musical support for acts; special community service learning projects (Session E).

Scheduled throughout every two week session the leadership group will participate in workshops and community building activities. These workshops and activities will be facilitated by Adult Staff members and sometimes special guests (Session E has additional special programming for the Teen Leaders). Community building activities will be interwoven into every day life. Workshops will include but will not be limited to:

Diversity & inclusion – Goal: to develop a mindfulness in communication and interactions with social groups that you otherwise would not. To provide opportunities to listen and also to teach how to listen and absorb from someone who has different world views then yourself.

Adulting skills (resume building, interview skill, oil change etc…) – Goal: to teach basic adulting skills. Providing tools for independence in decision making & everyday adult life. From study skills to unclogging a toilet. From building a fire to sending a professional email.

Performance teaching masterclass – Goal: Understanding different forms of teaching in creating performance art. It also will build confidence in public speaking. This workshop will directly translate to working at camp as an adult staff skills teacher.

Intersectionality, interrupting bigotry, interrupting toxic relationships – Goal: to equip teens with character traits necessary to confront all isms in a productive way. This workshop will give teens the voice to stop bigotry and to stand up against oppression.

Practicing restorative justice/ resolving conflicts – Goal: to provide necessary tools to resolve conflicts, between campers and peers. To also teach the fundamentals of restorative justice in a way that can be applied in any setting. Teens will be able to hold and lead circles as well as understanding how and why restorative practices work.

Strategies for working with children – Goal: giving teens different strategies and activities to use with their campers. Experiences camp counselors sharing how they create harmony within their tipis. Circle games and activities that teens can use during tipi time and when getting to know their campers on the first day.

Various Panels and Ask Me Anythings – Goal: Providing teens the opportunity to pick the brains of Staff and administrators. Teens will be able to have there questions answered in a popcorn style session with a diverse group of staff members.

Typical Day

This is a general, overall description of a typical day (there are different special activity days in each session). Because Teen Leaders are involved in so many roles within the intricate structure of running camp there is no way to provide a full description.

Hopefully what is clear are the opportunities to learn and practice pretty much any skill that a Teen Leaders is interested in. We make a weekly schedule specific for the Teen Leaders that ensures they have self-care and free time to hang out with their friends or take skills classes themselves.

8:30am help wake up campers, make sure their dressed warmly and are heading to the kitchen. If you are an early riser you can head to the kitchen anytime after 6:30am, grab some cocoa or tea and hang out with campers.

8:45am gather with the community for breakfast circle

9:00am breakfast – help set tables for family style meal, help campers find seats and help serve the meal to campers, paying attention to special dietary needs (every table has at least 1 Adult Staff and 1 Teen Leader)

9:30am assist with Tipi Clean Up and helping campers get ready for the day

9:50am either work with Adult Staff to finish tipi clean or help gather campers in the theater for morning reading. Morning Reading is a good time to make sit with campers, help pass out sunscreen, chapstick, brush and braid hair, etc.

10:10am participate in warm ups, making it fun for campers

10:30am 1st period – this will look different for each teen staff. you will either help set up any skills classes you are assisting with, gather for a workshop, perform tasks for an assigned job at the office or store, meet with your Counselor team, etc. Or take a skills class yourself!

11:30am is 2nd period – any of the above could be occuring or other scheduled activities/tasks (you can also take a skills class yourself!)

12:30pm some teen leaders will be helping set up for lunch, some will be helping gather children for showtime (if they assisted in a class) and participate in showtime, others will be working with Adult Staff to get ready for afternoon activities, Lifeguards will be getting ready for the Lake.

12:45pm gather with tipi for tipi time and run activity, do a check-in, help campers with what they need

1:00pm lunch (same as breakfast)

1:30pm scheduled afternoon supervision jobs, walking campers to the lake, assisting in office or free time for teen leaders

3:00pm some teen leaders will be scheduled to assist with afternoon classes, afternoon supervision job/activities continue, free time continues

5:45pm gather with tipi’s for tipi time, run activities, check-in’s, help campers with that they need

6:00pm gather with the entire camp community for Dinner Circle (some teen leaders will assist the kitchen to get dinner set up)

6:30pm dinner (same as breakfast and lunch)

7:00pm after dinner activities with campers, free time with campers, support adult staff with supervision or preparing for the evening program

8:00pm show time! Teen Leaders will be involved in evening activities in a number of different ways – from stagehand to providing live music to leading groups to working in the costume barn, etc.

10:00ish bedtime – brush ’em if you got ’em, getting kids prepared for bed, running activities, reading bedtime stories, check-in’s, helping everyone settle in to sleep.

After all the campers are asleep Teen Leaders have the option to go hang out at the kitchen with the Teen and Adult staff community. Their curfew is a strict midnight. 1st and 2nd year teen leaders sleep in the tipi with their campers and one Adult Staff. Some 3rd year teens could be assigned to sleep in a tent in a supervised Teen Leader “family land” (which is within downtown camp).

And then everything starts all over again!

Application Process

Every Teen Leader age 15 – 17 is welcome to apply. Participation is not based on previous participation in Camp Winnarainbow. We feel that the experience of camp should be for everyone.

Who Should Apply: youth who are interested in being change makers, who stand in responsibility for themselves and their community, who like working with children, who like (or want to experience) living outdoors, who are leaders in their own family/school/communities and want to expand their work, who have summoned their courage to engage, who have a desire to learn, stretch, lean in, share, and be a part of something that is bigger than themselves, who want to create magic and wonder.

To Apply: Fill out the Request for Application below or on the Dates and Rates page and we will email you the application link.

For consideration your application must include past experience in leadership as well goals you hope to obtain through the program. This will not look the same for every teen. We value your unique story and are seeking a diverse community. If you have a question about what qualifies as leadership experience we encourage you to contact us. We’re here to help you succeed.

REFERRALS: Teens can also be referred to the Leadership Program through someone who has an established relationship with Camp Winnarainbow. TO REFER EMAIL osayande@campwinnarainbow.org with all the information we are requesting below and a little bit about why you are referring. We will then notify the youth and their responsible adult via email or phone and offer an opportunity to apply.

DEADLINE: there will be a rolling deadline with the first application review and interviews beginning in March. There are limited spots in each session and it is first come, first reviewed. We look forward to working with you!

Request an Application

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