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Dream Camp to me is a place where I found myself and created lifelong friends. Through all my years, at Dream Camp, the counselors each slowly developed me into the leader I am today. Because of them I became a M.I.T. (Mentor In Training). From there, I became a YLP (Young Leader) and I slowly moved up the ranks to full fledge staff member and counselor for my own group, the Huskies. I remember each of the counselors I had and each helped me to become who I am today. They not only help you with all the sports activities, and classes but they would help us for life and told us to follow our dreams. When I finally made it to college, but before that, they helped me with college tours as well as SAT classes and working for the after school program really prepared me. They provided so many opportunities to prove myself and succeed. For example, I was invited to go to a Leadership Summit like the one all Directors go to. I couldn’t thank Dream Camp enough for everything they did for me. I know that what they did for me was done for many others as well.
—Zaib, Former YLP
“Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationship, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the establishment of equality, and a working political order that serves the true interests of all. In International relations, peacetime is not only the absence of war or conflict, but also the presence of cultural and economic understanding and unity.”(Peace – Wikipedia, 2011) Let me explain… I say the Nobel Peace Prize should go to Dream Camp! You have given so many children such as me the opportunity to grow. This is a safe place. This is a home away from home. Most important is the family you made all of us. The staff here is wonderful; they are like big brothers and big sisters to me. Each staff member I met has taught me something that I can hold onto, if I was lucky enough to listen. I would bet that someone has a magical place you go to and pick out the staff. Dream Camp is a name that fits, because here you can do anything you want – a dancer, a rapper, an artist, even a king of chess! It’s normal to reach for the stars here. No one will judge you here. I nominate ESF Dream Camp, a place where you can dare to be different. You do not just have fun, you learn as well. You start out as a student and end up a mentor. I LOVE DREAM CAMP!
—Robert (Dream Camper 2000-2010/First year YLP 2011)
Robert’s speech was written as part of our curriculum for the Young Leaders Program. Participants are asked to think of people influential to the world (either in their communities, schools, or globally.) They then must address the camp leadership team with their oral presentation. We were all overwhelmed and honored by Robert’s presentation.
What does Dream Camp mean to me?
I like Dream Camp because the teacher smiles when she reads to me. I draw happy pictures with crayons.
I like Dream Camp because it is fun and I get to play with my friends. It’s fun to play board games, go swimming, go to art, and read books. It’s fun to play card games too. What Dream Camp means to me is to follow your dreams, to be who you want to be, to be yourself.
—Jadie, 3rd Grade
I like coming here because there are lots of fun activities. I also like Dream Camp because the counselors help me with my homework. I like Dream Camp because the counselors help me with activities too. The activity I like the most so far is the “All About Me Shirts.” I like that activity because I get to express my feelings on paper. The best thing about Dream Camp is everything!
—Nashauria, 4th Grade
I like this program because of the activities and games. I also like the fun spirited counselors and the new friends you could make and have to talk with. If you need help with your homework you could get a helping hand from your great counselor when needed.
—Charity, 4th Grade
What Dream Camp means to me is fun, life and love. I think all of these things because we get to do fun activities. Also, life because you get to stay there until you are a counselor if you want to. It’s love because they are always caring about you. I would like to say thank you for having me at Dream Camp. If I didn’t have this then I would not know what to do for homework or what to do with life.
—Brooklyn, 5th Grade
Dream Camp has been a very exciting and fun academy… in the program the mentors are very helpful and they are always full of enthusiasm. If one of the students need or want help with their homework the mentors would be right by their side. Even in the summer camp, mentors are always by your side through thick and thin. We learn something new every day. It may be difficult at times but my mentors always have my back. So at the end of the day, I’m happy to go to Dream Camp.
—Laura, 8th Grade
What Dream Camp means to me is a fun and educational place. I have met many unique people here. I have good memories of Dream Camp sports, games and friendships. Throughout the years, I’ve spent here, I have learned many life lessons. Through all of my experiences, something new is just around the corner. “Equivalent exchange” is giving something and getting something back of equal value. In Dream Camp, you don’t give anything but Dream Camp gives. Dream Camp also teaches health advice and encourages high self-esteem. What does Dream Camp mean to me? There is an infinite amount of answers because of the infinite amount of experiences anyone has here.
—Glen, 9th Grade
Dream Camp is an experience that has changed my course in life. I had no idea that a last minute camp position two years ago would help me grow, just as much if not more than students I have worked with. Dream Camp has become a second family to me. I have never enjoyed a job so much. My first year, everyone was so supportive and accepting and the five weeks were over before I knew it. Being with the students and the students in the after-school program is overall a lot of fun. I look forward to camp each summer and I am unhappy when I cannot be at the program after-school. Seeing the kids grow and watching them change over the course of one summer and over the course of two years, is the reason I keep coming back. When a student says that the program is like a family and they enjoy coming is what keeps me smiling and it makes me feel like I am making a difference. Dream Camp is not work and does not feel like a job. It is a loving and supportive environment that finds the best in every student and pulls that out. Every student is given a fresh opportunity to prove and show that they can be the best they can be every day and every year. Dream Camp is the best opportunity I have had and can be the best opportunity for every child that joins us. Dream camp is love.
—Adah, Summer Counselor
“I’ve never talked back, I’ve never slept late, I’ve never sat down when told to stand straight… I’ve never rebelled, or stood up and yelled…” (Act, 2009) The small private, Catholic school that I have attended for sixteen years, has taught me to argue effectively against social injustice. Listen to your teachers, but civil disobedience against hunger, poverty, education, and society is welcome. So I obey my teachers, and I have learned how to make a change, but what is the change I want to make? What am I passionate about? My teachers push me to think about this question every day, but I haven’t had the life experience required to make this decision. So as any other Stuart girl would do, I go out and find the life experience. My passion is found at Dream Camp between the walls of Girard College in North Philadelphia. The community inside of those walls accepts me, and teaches me what North Philadelphia life is all about. With my small, private, Catholic school education and my time in North Philadelphia, I see a world that has potential to change, and that there is a group of children ready to make the change. Although, I may never talk back to my teachers, or sleep in late, it is only because I know that there are bigger battles out there and every hour can change a child’s life.
—Stephanie (Dream Camp YLP 2010-2011)
Stephanie was an YLP with Dream Camp from 2010-2011. She came to us from the ESF site of Lawrenceville as she has grown up in ESF. Stephanie used the above as part of her college essay. She currently has been accepted to Loyola College in Chicago. She is planning to study education reform at the University of Chicago in the fall.