For the fourth straight year, the Majestic Realty Foundation hosted kids from the inner city for a weekend camp for 82 students from the Los Angeles Youth Leadership Council (LAYLC) at the Salvation Army’s Camp Mt. Crags in Malibu Canyon. The theme for this year’s camp was “Do the Right Thing”--a theme reinforced throughout the weekend. Whether taking part in traditional leadership training activities, or jumping headlong into new experiences, like morning yoga or tightrope walking, the students had a weekend they will never forget—especially those who had never been to sleep-away camp.
“I learned to find my inner-self by testing myself on the ropes course,” said Bryon Herrera, 16, who represents Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) on the LAYLC. “The leap of faith activity was really challenging and I think I matured a little at camp. We talked about what we wanted to be when we grew up and what college we want to go to.” Herrera, who shared at camp that his goal is to attend UCLA and study world history, is a junior at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex.
Founded and sponsored by the Majestic Realty Foundation, the LAYLC is an informal team-building and leadership development organization that brings together high school students from six inner city youth centers: Bresee Foundation, El Centro del Pueblo, HOLA, Para Los Niños, Salesian Boys & Girls Club of LA, and the Salvation Army/Red Shield.
An annual highlight for LAYLC members, the Majestic Realty Foundation’s weekend camp includes leadership and goal-setting workshops, along with team building activities, mountain biking and moonlight scavenger hunts.
New to camp this year was a workshop on violence prevention facilitated by Brandy Davis, supervising attorney from Break the Cycle, a recent foundation grantee, along with yoga classes taught by instructors from the non-profit Y.O.G.A. for Youth program, and with nutrition classes led by representatives from the E.N.E.R.G.Y. (Eating Nutritiously, Exercising Regularly and Growing “Y” –isely) program of QueensCare Family Clinics.
"These students are amazing," said Meghan Loper, LAYLC program coordinator from the Foundation. "They look beyond any hardships or challenges they face in their personal lives to develop a wide range of skills that will help them become the leaders of tomorrow.” Although they are all from the inner city, LAYLC students attend 33 different LAUSD schools.
Whether trying the ropes course, the obstacle course or karaoke, or participating in workshops, the campers tested their limits, learned about teamwork and ultimately came away with new skills and memories to last a lifetime, Loper said.
In keeping with the LAYLC’s theme of leadership development, campers were instructed and mentored throughout the weekend on the art of goal setting.
"As they scaled the rock wall, solved the scavenger hunt or walked the tight rope, they had to focus on their goals," Loper explained. "It was great to watch them encourage each other, work together and solve problems, learning along the way that lasting friendships can transcend the boundaries of schools and neighborhoods."
In addition to providing camp opportunities, LAYLC also offers its young members the chance to take part in college tours and visits from high-profile guest speakers, such as public officials, business leaders and other decision makers. In turn, students receive leadership training, including pointers on public speaking, economic literacy and civic affairs. The students are then encouraged to become active in their communities.
"Through the LAYLC, we like to say that we are investing in tomorrow's leaders today. We are hoping to help create a future generation that is active in the community," said Fran Inman, president of the Majestic Realty Foundation. "We want these students to know that their voices matter and that the issues that concern them concern us all."