July 10, 2013
This week the YWCA Central Alabama opened its doors to a group of campers who, with sleeping bags and suitcases in tow, will make the YW their home for one week during YouthServe’s Urban Service Camp. This five day residential camp hosts a diverse group of youth, ages 13 -18, who come together to get to know each other as well as our city.
The YWCA is excited to continue its partnership with YouthServe to provide life-changing experiences for Birmingham area youth.
“We are extremely grateful for community partners like the YWCA. Allowing our youth to stay here over the years has been a tremendous help in our planning process,” says Marsha Hart, Interim Executive Director of YouthServe in Birmingham.
During the day, campers take “urban hikes” which consist of riding public transportation or walking to volunteer sites. This summer, campers will be assisting with New Rising Star summer camp activities, participating in games and activities with clients at The Exceptional Foundation, helping with clean up at The Botanical Gardens and assisting with education at Aletheia House. In addition to their volunteer work, campers also expand their knowledge of Birmingham’s history by visiting the Peanut Depot, Morris Avenue and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
The students still have fun, just like they would at any other summer camp but this camp is different because they also have the opportunity to serve others. The goal of the camp is to bring students from different cities, school systems, religions, races and socio-economic backgrounds together for a greater good.
"It's not a camp that's full of campfires and horseback riding and swimming pools. It's about community service and becoming a leader in your community," says Hart.
Each of the three week-long camps are designed to build friendships and break down barriers among a diverse group of youth while performing community service throughout Birmingham.
Each session begins with teambuilding games and an exciting scavenger hunt around Birmingham to introduce them to various areas of the city. Throughout the week, campers attend some of the same workshops on prejudice reduction, empowerment, education and privilege led by the YWCA’s Social Justice department during Anytown Alabama. They also hear from speakers on youth activism and expression.
“YouthServe’s Urban Service Camp is designed to nudge youth out of their comfort zones and empower them to be creative and effective leaders,” says Hart.
YouthServe is a youth service organization in Birmingham that brings adolescents together to participate in community service and social change through monthly Saturday workdays, summer camps and service learning curricula that are implemented in local schools. The Urban Service Camps are a vital part of YouthServe’s mission to empower youth leadership through community service.
For more information about YouthServe, call 205-521-6651 or visit www.youthservebham.org.
If you would like to support the YWCA’s youth programs please click here.