Did you know Peacebuilders Camp has a teen leadership program? It began in 2012 as a way to offer a learning opportunity to an older age group that we weren’t serving with our age 11-14 camp program. Teen leaders can apply to be counselors-in-training (CITs) for the duration of camp. Our CITs join us for pre-camp training and are mentored throughout the weeks of camp by their respective counselors. For many high schoolers, like our featured CIT Michelle Sanchez-Casarrubias (shown in the photo to the right), this is an eye-opening opportunity to learn about human rights, education, farm life, and all the many layered aspects of summer camp. We believe in Peacebuilders Camp as a transformative experience for all involved- not just the campers- and know it’s particularly important for high schoolers thinking about their futures and looking to gain experience. We need your help, though! Can you spread the word about the Peacebuilders Camp Teen Leadership Program to 17-year-olds who might be interested? For a firsthand account of what it’s like to be a CIT, we checked in with our former CIT Michelle below. Read on to find out more about her experience and where she is now.
My Experience as a Peacebuilders Camp CIT
My name is Michelle Sanchez-Casarrubias and I was a CIT (Counselor in Training) of the summer of 2013. I was a coming up sophomore at Terrell High at the time and now I’m a graduating senior at the top of my class.
My experience at Peace builders Camp was different from what I expected. I assumed Peacebuilders Camp was going to be just like every other where they have at least an hour of learning and then take the children to a place where they can have fun like a pool. I was surprised when the camp was on a farm where everyone works together to make things run smoothly. All the residents of Koinonia where friendly, welcomed us with open arms, and even let us use one of their homes to use during those two weeks. I never expected for the children to learn about civil rights. Everything we did throughout the day had to do something with what we were talking about on that specific day. It blew my mind that children their age would interact with such a strong topic and retain the information they learned till we met for our after dinner meetings. I was very impressed that at a very young age they would be interested in such a thing like civil rights. I’ve learned so much from them as well as for the civil rights topics we talked to them about. What I like the best was going to Andersonville and learning about the prisoners of war, which I believe was a great impact on the children. In those two weeks with them as well as with my fellow staff members I’ve wanted to come back as an official counselor just to repeat an experience like that again.
Since being a CIT I came to acknowledge that I have been disconnected from my roots and took for granted what my ancestors did for us to be here today. Once I got home I asked my mother all about what our family went through to get here. She told me her story multiple times which was enough for me to want to work hard since I was young. Through the years that hard work has paid off. I am an honor graduate of my 2015 class. After graduation I plan to go to the University of West Georgia and major in accounting and minor in graphic design and Spanish. I plan to be a tax representative for those who have difficulties speaking and understanding English and to get them the money they rightfully worked hard for. Since Peacebuilders Camp I’ve wanted to help out people more even if all I can do is help them with taxes, but I can definitely say that Peacebuilders Camp has changed some aspect of my life to help me as a person and to gain experience in a different circumstance. Overall I enjoyed my time and I’m itching to go back and hopefully become an official counselor for the campers of 2015.