TROY — Two Troy students from The Future Begins Today (TFBT) were selected for the 10-day Tim Horton Children’s Foundation Youth Leadership Program summer camp experience.
Incoming eighth-grade students at Troy Junior High School, TaMeka Lawrence and Austyn Jenkins, were nominated to apply to the program by several Troy City Schools staff members, as well as Natalie Rohlfs, executive director of TFBT, and Janet Rhodes, their recent TFBT Club adviser.
Rhodes said of the young ladies, “This experience will reinforce their great characteristics and let them see how strong they truly are. It will help them become positive leaders with their peers when they come back.”
Tim Horton Children’s Foundation’s website states that the Youth Leadership Program (YLP) is designed to build strengths that help our youth thrive at school, succeed in their future workplaces and become active contributing members of their communities.
Rohlfs said, “There is such a powerful correlation between what the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation offers its campers and what TFBT provides students throughout its programming. It fittingly bridges the lessons and support that our students receive here in Troy. I’m really proud of TaMeka and Austyn for earning the respect of their nominators, and we are fortunate to have our students selected by their organization out of the two countries that are represented in the Youth Leadership Program.”
Since 2005, Tim Horton Children’s Foundation has selected 47 TFBT students for this unique and positive experience.
Lawrence shared her excitement when she learned she was selected, “I’m really thankful for the opportunity. I know I’ll learn so many things while I’m there, and I’m most excited for the constructive activities after camp. They are going to help me grow into a leader.”
Lawrence’s mother, Racinda Reynolds, said her daughter was hesitant to do things like this in the past. “I’m so glad she was selected and that she’s excited to do it,” Reynolds said. “She went with TFBT to the short spring break camp and really liked it, so that helped her feel comfortable, too.”
The two campers were matched in the same bunk room at Camp Kentahten in Campbellsville, Kentucky, during this first-year experience. In late 2016, the Youth Leadership Program was expanded to allow selected campers the opportunity to potentially be invited back to one of their seven camps for as many as five summers so they can build upon the skills that they are being taught. The Foundation’s six other camps are located in Canada.
Jenkins, who said her favorite part of the experience was the beach parties, also noted, “Through the Great Bead Olympics at camp, we earned points and beads for our team by practicing the skills we learned about like teamwork, challenges, motivation, peace, and friendship. We had debriefs with our cabin groups on how we can incorporate the skills later.
“We went on a trip in the woods overnight and took an eight-mile hike. I never thought I could do that and was surprised that I was able to accomplish it with the knee problem I have. They taught me how to canoe; we went swimming in the lake and went tubing. I made a lot of friends from places like Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and now TaMeka from Troy, and we all have been talking to each other since we got back. They are so nice to me.”
Her mother, Mandy Jenkins, said, “When she returned, I saw a brighter outlook in her and it’s really helped her open up as a person.”
This camp opportunity was made possible through the partnership between The Future Begins Today (TFBT) and the downtown Troy Tim Hortons store, locally owned and operated by Alison Davies. The local store has collection boxes at their cash registers for patrons to contribute to and help give this experience to local students.