Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NAD Miss Deaf America, Rachel Mazique, visits YLC

The NAD Miss Deaf America, Rachel Mazique, shared her interesting story about herself and her various experiences. She actually lured us into her background by explaining how she got involved in the Miss Deaf America Ambassador Program (MDAAP). Through her mother's encouragement, her mother said, “you can succeed after trying something and there’s no reason to say no to something,” meaning that other people or even you should jump at any opportunity and do it. In that same moment, she said that she finally followed her mom’s instincts that she should try and get involved in MDAAP. On another note, she won the title as Miss Deaf Latino in Chicago. From that experience, she decided to participate and compete for the Miss Deaf America title.

The reason that Rachel has made her appearance at YLC was to teach us important value-based lessons such as the ripple effect, sharing the importance of making a positive influence. In addition, she also explained her trip to the NAD Conference, competing at the NAD Miss Deaf America competition in Philadelphia. Our favorite quote from her was: “The small action you take can create a lasting impact on others and your life.” She taught us that we can always try something new and keep an open mind and an open heart.

She also mentioned about receiving wonderful support from her family, friends, and members of the community. She encouraged us to ask for support, give support, and believe in yourself. Giving support is what keeps the community strong.

It was really nice to have her come and stay with us for two days and she went to Silver Falls with us. She had a pleasant time interacting with us! We wish her all the best during her journey as NAD Miss Deaf America.

We learned many things about Rachel's journey to winning the MDA crown.

Rachel interacted with the campers and enjoyed watching them grow.

Rachel talked about her trip to the NAD Conference in Philadelphia.

The YLC audience watched Rachel's presentation and was very fascinated.

NAD Miss Deaf America, Rachel, shared several tips about making a positive influence on others.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Silver Falls and Fireside Presentations

Many campers were looking forward to that one particular day - Silver Falls. When the day came, we were all excited for a day of hiking, exploring, and swimming. Silver Falls has 14 waterfalls along with beautiful views of nature. It took us all about two and half hours to hike the beautiful trail. After eating late lunch, we took off to swim in a freezing creek. Some of us enjoyed the water temperature and the others definitely did not. All of us had a great time there and we bonded on a deeper level.

All campers and staff smiled for the camera!

Smiling and cheerful campers!

Cooling off at Silver Falls

Later that night, Luba Douziech gave a phenomenal speech about her life at Fireside. In Edmonton, Alberta Canada, her parents came to a decision - “It would be better for Luba to attend a mainstreamed school to obtain better education.” Years later when she got older and have tried various learning strategies, her father decided to bring her to Alberta School for the Deaf to expose her to the deaf community, so Luba can reach her potential. After interacting with some deaf peers, Luba started to realize that she felt that she shared a lot of similarities with her peers. Several weeks before summer ended after her senior year, her father encouraged her to check out Gallaudet University to experience a deaf-friendly atmosphere. After contemplating her academic choices, she has made a decision to attend Gallaudet University. Luba shared that she had grown into a more confident woman. Being a staff here at Youth Leadership Camp has also made a lasting impact on her. She encouraged all of us to particpate more in organizations while we all are in high school so we can learn and grow into stronger and proactive leaders. We all sure were blown away by her story, a presentation we all will never forget.

Luba Douziech presented her speech at Fireside.

Campers were fascinated by Luba Douziech's life stories.

Andrew Bottoms gave a speech about his experience at Gallaudet. To be more specific, he explained about his memories of the Gallaudet protest for a deaf president. Andrew was involved with the protest because he believed that he was doing a good deed; promoting a better deaf community. We listened to his amazing presentation and we have to remind ourselves to stand strong and support our beliefs.

Bottoms shared his experience.

YLC: Stronger Connection

We woke up to a calm, chilly, and sunny morning. Some of us brushed our teeth while some others stretched and changed their clothes. After a good, hard routine of exercise and running, we were sent off to Leadership Hall where we had biscuits and gravy, yogurt, and assorted fruits. Yummy! Group B introduced their show after breakfast. Despite their effort, the staff gave a thumbs-down because they felt it was not enough to exceed their expectations. Group B gracefully accepted and went to work on another idea. Subsequently, Casper went to clean the bathrooms, Group C stayed in Leadership Hall to tidy up the cafeteria mess, and Group B and D went to their cabins to take care of any mess left. Next, another Camp Council!

We took our seats in Leadership Hall to see and hear any more news, nominations, and proposals. A proposal to elect a new banquet co-chairperson was offered and approved. Five contestants entered the competition and they are the following: Montana Murphy and Raquel Grindstaff, Nia Lazarus and Ryan Poindexter, Jenna Smith and Alanna Laughrey, Gina Curry and Isbella Natalie, and Chelsea Morris and Angel Ortiz. After an extensive discussion, we voted Jenna Smith and Alanna Laughrey to be our new co-chairpersons. Congratulations to them!

We renewed our energy by munching some appetizing ham and turkey sandwiches and chips. We left to our classes afterwards. Group C exited to Daily Drum, Group B and D switched OLS (Outdoor Living Skills) and Discovery Class, and Casper went to their Blog/Vlog class. We enjoyed our snack break, wolfing on trail mixes, beef jerky, yogurt, nuts, and fruits. During recreation, several of us chatted, others played basketball, and a handful of us wrote letters.

During dinnertime, we took off to Leadership Hall, where Group C graced us with their theatrical production. They called themselves “Tetris” and the show went fantastic. The staff debated for about fifteen minutes before approving the name, much to Tetris’s delight! As soon as Tetris got their play done, Group D stepped on the stage to show their performance presenting themselves as “Voltage”. After a brief ten-minute discussion by the staff, Voltage, the group name, was accepted! We then scrambled to get our mouth-watering Philadelphia “Philly” cheese steaks and luscious homemade French fries!

Sitting in a circle, we curiously looked at each other without any clue of what was going on. Bregitt Jimenez, Dean of Girls, and Mark Ramirez, Dean of Boys, announced that the original plan was changed. We were supposed to run the evening program tonight. They recognized that our bond as a team was not there yet, including trust and communication. Our unspoken feelings, emotions, secrets, and thoughts were bottling inside every of us. Bregitt and Mark opened up the discussion with goals and rules shared by us. We desired to have good feelings with each other and we agreed to promise each other that we were there to listen to each other without judging. As we established our goals and rules, Bregitt and Mark strongly encouraged us to share our thoughts and feelings to develop a stronger team and group dynamics.

At the beginning of the discussion, many of us were quiet and sitting still, however, our minds were racing with undeclared thoughts and maddening emotions. In the next moment, we started to express our feelings about getting to know each camper, besides our teammates and we want to leave YLC with good feelings. Some of us narrated how they got accepted into YLC and got thrilled with the news. Some of us thought that YLC was just a camp. However, when we got here, we realized that our views of YLC have changed so much in ten days. We were filled with various emotions that we feel like one big family and this is our second home.

This discussion was not just some discussion; this brought our memories, feelings, emotions exploding out. One camper mentioned that she was quiet and humble her whole life, but she has numerous sides that everyone had not seen. She was tired of being labeled as “boring” and she decided to come to YLC to improve herself and attempted to be more assertive. She was glad that she has friends here to find her fun, awesome side. One camper was from a mainstreamed school; she was accustomed of just facing one interpreter and does not have any friends in school. She came to YLC and she was not used to seeing everyone talking in ASL, but she quickly felt she belonged here. The most inspiring part was seeing some of us cry with pride and happiness, realizing that they can speak up for themselves and share how they felt.

After the group process, Chef Clint Woosley gave us ice cream to enjoy! We and the staff started to cherish each other more, making us one, big, happy family! That night was truly a night to remember.

This night was very emotional for every one of us. Some of us were crying and some of us were inspired, but every one of us were touched by the discussion tonight. One long, meaningful discussion brought us closer to each other. We learned a lot from each other and we feel comfortable expressing ourselves for the rest of the camp.

Another Day at YLC

After running and some stretching, we were comforted by delicious blueberry pancakes and sausages. Group B was called to do a play and they did wonderful, although the staff felt that it did not exceed their expectations, they accepted the decision and kept their faith alive. After some cleaning assignments, we had a Camp Council meeting.

There were two proposals and they were: to purchase a stereo system for Leadership Hall so we could benefit from the beats and rhythms of the music during some events and for future YLCers to use, and to move Laundry Day to an earlier date because several campers felt that their clothes were too dirty. The stereo system proposal got accepted, however, we had to wait and do some research about funding. On the other hand, another proposal got declined because the schedule was full.

After a refreshing snack, we played Camp Bowl; it is a game where the staff members ask us some random questions about current events and facts of everyday life. Group D won the event, with Group A going second, the third place went to Group C, and the last but not least, Group B. Then, We were dismissed to Leadership Hall for lunch. Group C did their play and the staff took a serious thought about it and had a 40-minute discussion about their play. The result? They felt that it did not meet their expectations. But, Group C accepted the fate and continued to develop a new play. After a satisfying meal of corn dogs, we went to our classes, with Group C doing Daily Drum/Yearbook, Group D working on Blog/Vlog, and Group A and Group B switching Outdoor Living Skills (OLS) class and Discovery class.

Later that afternoon, we had recreation. Most of the campers swam while a few others sat outside and chatted. A while later, it was dinnertime! Group D took the stage with their show before we had dinner. It went well but the staff decided it was not enough to award a thumbs-up. Group D learned what it takes to persevere and they gracefully accepted the loss. We had tasty cheese ravioli and some mixed vegetables for dinner. Group A performed their play after the dinner and the staff took a 45-minute debate whether to approve their name or not. The staff dramatically made a line, indicating that they had made their decision. As the members of Group A waited anxiously to find out, the staff gave a thumbs-up! Group A gave an ecstatic cheer and hugged every counselor in the building. Group A has a new group name - Casper!

During our evening program, we did a game called the Hideous Counselor game. It is an event that we decorate every counselor with oodles of ingredients in an effort to make them ugly and gross. The team with the most hideous counselor wins. All of counselors’ names were labeled on a piece of paper. Who got picked? Casper got Jesse Jones III, Group B got Maurice Abenchuchan Jr., Group C got Allie Rice, and Group D got Andrew Bottoms. Then, each of four groups decorated each of their counselors’ faces in an effort to win. We had materials for decorating and they were the following: M&M, peanut butter, cottons, color markers, wood sticks, feathers, and trash bag. The groups gave each counselor a nasty makeover. The result? Casper won first place, Team B went second, Team D placed third, and Team C finished fourth. “I thought it was fun. I was drenched in peanut butter! But, it was a funny experience for me, ” commented Andrew Bottoms. Jesse Jones then added, “Wow, I felt funny because I thought they would do something drastic to my head.”Allie Rice then quipped in, "Campers truly showed instant creativity by working together in mere five minutes.” “I felt energetic because they showed it all through this game,” replied by Maurice Abenchuchan Jr.

After the Hideous Counselor game, we went to the campfire. Casper created the fire successfully with two matches, much to everybody’s delight. Our counselors, Shannon Bertling and Larissa Clapp, shared their life stories and experiences. Larissa explained us the world of being a vegetarian, giving us her point of view of animals being abused and battered. By seeing animals being abused, she was in shock. She was determined to join the Humane Society to help animals that were ill-treated. Next, she explained to us different groups of vegetarians: flextarians, vegans, pesticitarians, and several others. We learned some horror stories about animals, and we looked at each other, thinking about all the pain animals have experienced.

Subsequently, Shannon Bertling greeted us with her experience travelling in Taipei, Taiwan for her media job. She gave several points that people care about deaf people in other countries, treating us Americans as if we were kings and queens. She emphasized the importance of giving respect to various cultures and their people. We really appreciated the speeches given by Larissa Clapp and Shannon Bertling.

Joshua Weinstock holding the white board while Bregitt Jimenez and James “Jimmy” Wilson watch.

Dolan Edney giving his opinion during a proposal.

During the Camp Bowl, Andrew Morrill answers a question while Bradley Chappell, Ryan Poindexter, and Hillary Peters watch. Andrew Bottoms, Samantha Bulewich, and Jesse Jones surveyed the contestants.

Andrew Biskupiak, Andrew Floyd, Kaitlin Newhard, Jose Castillo, Tiffany Bridgett, and Trey Gordon discuss the best answer to the question.

Christine Gerard looking on anxiously and Minwook Cho hoping that he got his answer correctly.

Renca Dunn introduced the crowd about the “Hideous Counselor” game.

Maurice Abenchuchan Jr. getting a makeover from the rest of Group B.

Kaytlyn Johnson and Isabella Natalie giving Andrew Bottoms a new hairdo.

Jesse Jones, Maurice Abenchuchan Jr., Allie Rice, and Andrew Bottoms being humiliated by the raucous crowd.

Shannon Bertling giving a lecture about her experience in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Organizational Day

After breakfast, the four groups have to do various chores such as cleaning up cabins, Leadership Hall and bathroom. When we were done cleaning, we were told to meet at Fireside for announcements by Jesse Jones. As Jesse Jones was explaining the schedule for the day, Allie Rice quickly interrupted for an important announcement. She stood up with a stern look and said it in a serious tone, “It is just the beginning of THE ORGANIZATIONAL DAY.” The day was fun-filled.

Global Perseverance for the Deaf organization helped each other.

Deaf Education Advocate Services’ members: Brandon Washburn, Bradley Chappell, Brianna Crayton, and Alanna Laughrey looked and discussed about the case they needed to solve.

Andrew Morrill, Brianna Crayton, and Tiffany Bridgett looked at Nia Lazarus, as she explained about their case.

Deaf Youth LifeSavers members, Andrew Morrill and Brandon Alberti, tolerated with one of their crazy co-workers.

Andrew Floyd and Lukas Morkevicius struggled to get their lunatic co-worker to cooperate to keep their organization running.

The groups were waiting for their judges to come.

Trey Gordon gave his speech to campers about how to run an organization.

Deaf Education Advocate Services members ate their meals during lunch.

Thinaja Nadarajah and Camilla Crump discussed with the judges about their organization.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

'Pop the Balloon' Game and Wilderness Philosophy

We were sitting and chatting as we were eating our big delicious breakfast! They were pancakes filled with blueberries with syrup and different kinds of cereal! Our drinks were punch, lemonade, and milk! Our stomachs were full when breakfast was over, and we were summoned to clean up Leadership Hall for our next workshop presented by Clint Woosley. Campers were wondering what was going to happen next, as we looked at each other. Clint got up on stage and said one sentence, “Do humans connect to nature more than animals?” Campers were confused and they really did not understand why Clint had asked this. So Clint gave out more information than necessary for campers to know about how nature works in the world. Clint really wants us to know about why it is important to understand how the world works because some campers do not learn this in their schools, homes, and/or different places. At one point during his presentation, Clint mentioned about the lie detector that he tested on plants and, on the seismography, plants have showed feelings such as fear and joy.

He explained the story of how the “water” does have feelings, even though if it does not have any oxygen or cells. Because one man did an experiment on water and he wrote down two words “bad” and “good”, then he put the paper of both words on each of two cups of water and then put in a freezer overnight. Next day, he took out both of the cups of water and look down on both of them with a microscope and recognized the difference of both waters. Water that was insult by word “bad” showed that the pattern inside the water is so blurry, and water that was grateful by word “good” showed the pattern of beautiful snowflakes. So that proves that the water does have feelings and can respond to humans.

Later that afternoon, campers gathered around after dinner for the evening program. The evening program coordinators, Luba Douziech and Renca Dunn, organized this program for campers to play in! Campers were excited because Evening Program is one of their favorites! The Balloon Game was one of games campers played, it has many and many balloons and inside there are some notes, some without notes. Campers must follow the rules of this games and act out what the notes said. They had a blast! This game is similar to the musical chair game.

During the fireside, Clint has wrapped up day and night by telling his stories of his life. Campers were amazed by his words. It was short after all, but Clint was more than happy to answer all of the campers’ questions that campers wanted to know. He closed the night by doing the usual YLC Good Night tradition. Campers were tired and went to their cabins for a good night's sleep.

Clint Woosley's workshop about Wilderness Philosophy.

While Isabella Natalie is multitasking, she is fascinated by Clint's workshop.

Before the Balloon game, campers listen as Luba Douziech gives instructions.

Christine Gerard, Gabriel Carino, and Nicole Strom laugh as they play the Balloon game.

Angel Ortiz tries to act out for 30 seconds during the Balloon game.

Ricardo Smolik is acting out as a rockstar - go go Ricardo!

Kaytlyn Johnson laughs as everyone cheers on.

Raquel Grindstaff laughs as she tries to act out.

During our fireside chat, Clint Woosley shares his life stories.

Clint answers one of the campers' questions.

iDeaf News Visits YLC

Please check an amazing video produced by iDeaf News, A virtual tour of NAD Youth Leadership Camp!