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Thursday, July 28, 2011

DC SCORES alumni enjoy being mentors as summer camp counselors

(From left): Dave M., Claudia M., Diana B., Jhoana H. and Raul M.
Written by Avery Lord
DC SCORES intern and Soccer & Arts camp counselor

DC SCORES summer camps would not be possible without the generosity and hard work of the volunteer counselors. This summer, five previous DC SCORES participants were matched up with the summer camp at H.D. Cooke Elementary School through the DC Summer Youth Employment Program.

(The Summer Youth Employment Program is administered by the Department of Employment Services and provides DC residents ages 14-21 with subsidized employment opportunities in the private and government sectors.)

Through a combination of paid hours and volunteer hours, these five DC SCORES counselors have been an integral part of the success of summer camp this year.

During a brief break from a typical busy camp day, I was able to ask them a few questions about their experiences this summer and get insight into their connections with DC SCORES and, of course, the art of step dancing that the campers were learning.

The five counselors working at H.D. Cooke are Claudia M. (age 15), Dave M. (age 18), Diana B. (age 16), Raul M. (age 15) and Jhoana H. (age 14).

Where did you participate in DC SCORES as a student?
Claudia – Marie Reed Learning Center
Dave – Fletcher Johnson Education Center
Diana – Bancroft Elementary School
Raul – Thomson Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School
Jhoana – Oyster-Adams Bilingual School

Why did you decide to stay involved with DC SCORES this summer?
Claudia – I stayed involved because I enjoyed playing with DC SCORES. I remember how many volunteers there were when I played and I liked it so much that I joined the program as a volunteer.
Dave – Because I figured it was a fun program because I was in it before and I remember always having fun.
Diana – Because I think DC SCORES is growing so it’s fun to see the new activities that they have now that they didn’t have when I was in it.
Raul – Because I enjoyed the poetry because it helped me with my writing skills. DC SCORES also helped me with soccer. I used to kick with my toe, but then I had a teacher in eighth grade that taught me how to kick with my laces.
Jhoana – If it weren’t for DC SCORES, I probably wouldn’t be so outgoing and so athletic. I decided to participate because DC SCORES has helped me.

What is your favorite part about being a DC SCORES summer camp counselor?
Claudia – The bonding part and the fact that the campers not only see me as a counselor but as a role model as well.
Dave – It’s a new experience. It’s a challenge, too, and I like new challenges.
Diana – Doing all the activities with the campers and definitely playing soccer too.
Raul – Actually it is helping me learn things from the kids that I didn’t know. Also, (I’m) learning about their personal lives and learning how to help them.
Jhoana – Well, just impacting the children’s lives. Just playing a role in their lives.

Is volunteering with DC SCORES something you could see yourself continuing to do?
Claudia – Yes, because I like working with kids and I consider soccer one of my passions. It’s been a great experience getting to know the other counselors, too.
Dave – Yes. It would be because it’s a fun experience and soccer is one of my favorite sports and also I like being a good role model for the campers.
Diana – Yes, absolutely, because I think you always learn something new so it’s a good experience.
Raul – Yes, because I’ve enjoyed DC SCORES and I like how they organize the camp. I like organizing events and going to camp because I get to participate as well.
Jhoana – Yes. I can see myself doing this. It’s fun and I get to spend time with kids. I adore kids.

What is the most challenging part of being a DC SCORES camp counselor?
Claudia – Getting to know all the kids and keeping track of all of them.
Dave – Just showing the same amount of attention to all the campers.
Diana – Patience is a big factor, but you also have to relax and sit back and have fun with the kids.
Raul – Trying to find ways for the kids who don’t want to participate to participate.
Jhoana– At times the campers don’t like listening to counselors so you have to try to control them as best you can.

What are your thoughts on step dancing?
Claudia – It’s a pretty cool way of dancing, but for me it’s hard to learn. It takes time and practice.
Dave – It’s tough.
Diana – I think it’s a good way to stay active.
Raul – I actually like it. I like step dancing, it’s fun.
Jhoana– It’s complicated. It’s hard to coordinate your feet with your hands at the same time.

Throughout the summer, these five counselors have built strong relationships with each other and with the campers. Many of the campers view them not only as counselors, but as role models, proving how beneficial alumni are to the DC SCORES program.

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