Camps offer leadership and career opportunities


Welcome to Camp: Senior Gabriella Backus is welcomed to Girls State camp with a whiteboard informing delegates what to do while they wait for their camp leaders. (Photo by Gabriella Backus)

Jasmine Castillo, Opinion Editor

Although some students are able to gain leadership experience by being elected to an official position in a club or being chosen as the captain of their sports team, the truth is that leadership opportunities are few and far between for teens.

To address this issue, different organizations sponsor leadership camps where students can gain leadership skills. Two of the most popular camps offered to high school students are RYLA and Boys and Girls State.

Bear Creek counselor Ren Pham-Peck is one of the main organizers of the committee who sends out names of students who are believed to be the best fit for these camps.

“These camps email me or call me asking for students with good citizenships and good leadership,” Pham-Peck said. “I email all the teachers and counselors, and they give me back recommendations of students who they feel are the best fit. From there, I categorize [the students] based off of how many recommendations I received.”

Pham-Peck also shared what qualities are most desirable for students.
“It has to be a student that is relatively active in the community, has good citizenship and good grades,” Pham-Peck said. “[These qualities] apply for Girls/Boys State as well.”

While spending seven days at RYLA’s Camp Oakhurst — located in Coarsegold, California — junior Devyn Inong learned and participated in exercises to strengthen leadership skills.

“They really stressed about becoming leaders at our own schools and leading students towards more success and just bringing the school up and positivity and morals and everything good in general,” Inong said of the experience.

Additionally, RYLA offers programs for students that expose them to career options they may want to pursue in the future.

“I did the engineering program,” Inong said. “There were many programs like yearbook, camp council, cabin companion, newspaper and entertainment. As a cabin, we all got to choose what program we wanted.”

Other leadership camps, such as Boys/Girls State, also share the importance of leadership at the high school level. According to, “The program is one in which participants learn about rights, privileges and responsibilities of U.S. citizens in a one-week intensive program. Most programs are held on a college campus and students live in the dorms.”

Boys/Girls State’s main goal is to influence and teach the importance of politics to a younger audience in the hopes that individuals will become more politically educated before adulthood.

Senior Gabriella Backus attended Girls State last year. Located in Claremont, California, Backus spent the summer developing leadership skills and gaining political knowledge.

“Girls State is very secretive, so they don’t tell you much about what you are going to do there,” Backus said. “Essentially, it is an interactive government model which is designed to teach young girls about government and politics and get them involved since there is a lack of woman working in our government. [Girls State] was propaganda to get people to vote, and I learned about the specifics of the voting process.”