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Blog entry by Carmen Pedersen, International Committee Volunteer
This past Saturday, February 22, the Western Canadian Leadership Conference (WCLC) was held at YMCA’s Camp Chief Hector in Kananaskis Country, Alberta. Youth leaders from local YMCA’s throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan came together at Camp to participate in team strengthening and skill building activities.
The International Committee from YMCA Calgary presented a workshop concerning the international presence of YMCA and the diversity of the association’s global initiatives. The session included discussions about the enormity of YMCA international and the variety of issues YMCAs around the world address. Members of the committee shared stories from passed experiences at YMCA Ukraine and Colombia. Bringing to light how YMCAs around the world differ, however still maintain the same core values, with a reoccurring theme dedicated to defending social justice.
The youth leaders were asked to define social justice, sparking a discussion about the Universal Declaration of Human rights. The session concluded with the game “Acts of Peace Bingo” which revealed how one can contribute to the fight for social justice during everyday activities. The participants were left with an opportunity to volunteer with the International Committee during their upcoming event “Beyond Present: A Woman’s Journey Through Time” to celebrate International Women’s day on March 8th.
Overall the session was a success. Forty-five youth leaders were informed about the variety of opportunities available at international YMCAs, and hopefully leaving the participants with an increased desire to get involved with social justice movements in their community.
This past weekend, youth leaders from many YMCA’s attended the Western Canadian Leadership Conference out at Camp Chief Hector. Thank you to Esther, from the SW YMAP Program, for writing this blog entry and sharing her perspective on a fantastic weekend out at camp!
“Going to camp for me was an escape from stress of final exams and everything else happening. I went not knowing or expecting anything at all. I was open-minded and it was an extraordinary event. Although it started off slowly and relaxed, as we waited for everyone to arrive, it wasn’t slow again until I got back inside the bus to come back to Calgary.
The several programs at the camp really challenged me and got me thinking a whole lot ( Mental health workshop, Souperstars nutrition lesson, Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre, Antyx Community Arts, the Aboriginal elder, the dance lesson, Canadian track athlete Sam Effah, and the open mic). In the Mental Health workshop we played a game where we could rip up a piece of paper to represent ripping our negative thoughts away. The food and nutrition session really challenged me to start a new diet and change my eating habit. I can’t believe how I am affecting my body with salt and sugar I consume. I think that the class was really helpful and every teenager needs to learn about it. The Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre was a really funny class. Although everyone was laughing and making fun of everything Denise (the presenter) said, I thought it was important. The analogy comparing relationships to a hamburger and steak made everything she said stick with me. Every time I see a hamburger or steak, I will always remember what I learn from her. The Aboriginal Elder, Sequoyah Trueblood, talking about life was incredibly serious and challenges my way and view of life. The dance lesson and open mic was entertaining and I thought it was the break we needed from learning so much all day. I mean teenagers really need that moment to themselves.
Meeting Sam Effah, our keynote speaker, was incredible and his speech sums up everything I learned from the others presenter. He talked about not giving up on your goal, trying hard when it difficult and when others think you cannot do it, being yourself, writing down your goals and not blaming anybody for your failure or seeing your failures as a final thing but rather a stepping stone to do something more great. Going to camp for me wasn’t just a trip I will forget, but something which challenges me to be a better me. I wouldn’t change anything about the camp because it was an incredible adventure, something I will always remember and treasure. Thank you WCLC for teaching and reminding me of what I need to know.”
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