By Katrina Grant
For most kids, summer days are spent going to the beach, hanging out with friends or even working. However, in Shamong Township for a few days, kids can learn about becoming good leaders.
Youth Leadership Camp began from an idea last year where kids were invited to come to Joseph Rosales’ house for an hour-long conversation about making good choices in their life. After that meeting parents wanted to get more involved and Rosales wanted more kids and parents to be involved and so he approached Timothy Carroll, principal at Indian Mills Memorial School, about forming a more developed program for the kids. This year the four day long, July 25 to 28, Youth Leadership Camp was formed.
“I said to my self that my son hangs around the same kids and these kids influence each other; perhaps more then I influence my son,” Rosales said. “I wanted to influence my son, his friends, they’re parents, values and morals. So many kids need to understand the impact of choices, honesty, respect and accountability.”
The Youth Leadership Camp focuses on leadership and making good choices. It teaches kids that the many choices they make on a daily basis, affect how their day will turn out.
“We make up to 5,000 choices a day,” Rosales said. “The more positive they are the more positive a day we will have. The more negative, it’s all downhill from there. It all piles up from there if you don’t make good choices.”
Leadership is another important concept in the program. The kids are taught that to become good leaders of others, they must first become good leaders of themselves.
“Leadership is not about bossing someone around, it is about making the right decisions,” Rosales said. “Leaders need to become good leaders of themselves by leading each other.”
The program has five core values that the kids are taught. Those five values are choices, honesty, accountability, respect and trust. Each day of the camp, guest speakers came and talked to the kids about one of the five core values. The guest speakers were Bill Fisher, Head Coach of Seneca High School Football, a representative from the N.J. State Police, the Dean of Temple Law School and Dan Giordano, IMMS teacher and coach.
“The kids are able to hear from different people that aren’t their teachers or parents,” Rosales said. “It’s powerful, I’ve been very impressed with the attentiveness of the kids. It’s very exciting to see them come out on an early summer morning. It’s so cool to hear the parents ask about what this is when they come to pick them up.”
Rosales hopes that they can host another camp next year for the kids. But, if they can’t he knows this year; they have made an impact.
“If we can equip, inspire and motivate youth to make better to make better choices and to be more honest, then we are making an impact,” Rosales said. “It doesn’t matter your religion, nationality, sex, it matters that you make good choices. I’m so excited kids will be making better choices.”