This summer, Roger became the third Imagine Scholar student to work as a counselor at Camp Caldera. Camp Caldera empowers underserved youths through innovative, year-round art and environmental programs in Oregon, USA. The program places a special emphasis on individual creativity and self-expression and works to foster a safe space for young people as they define their personal identities within the realm of their lives, their families, and their communities.
Rodger’s traveled to Oregon to build personal and professional skills as a young leader and mentor to younger students. He recounts his experiences below.
Author: Rodger Chinhangue
Caldera is a unique artistic world created inside the real world we live in. It’s a home of ecstasies because students, artists, and everyone become who they dream of without worrying about the outside world. From camp names to being equipped, and empowered to create art from inspirations, students explore nature and create a connection between art and the natural world. It is a medium for self-exploration, safety, and growth for young people.
The beauty of the location is irresistible. The lake, forest and the river provide a spiritual connection with nature, that makes you drop all your electronics, disconnect the internet and appreciate mother nature.
As most of my inspirations come from my fellow Imagine Scholars. My friends Mandisa and Thenjiwe went to Caldera last year and when they told me about it, I couldn’t believe such a place existed. It was an honour when Corey offered me to go since I didn’t have plans for my summer break. After getting more information from them, I decided that this was an opportunity I would love to explore.
The passion from all the staff was rare and special. Considering all the differences the students came from, it is amazing how everyone was very caring and responsible for every student, on every session without losing their energy in the entire 6 weeks. The staff regardless of how old by age they were, they still carried an attitude that made a 10-year-old to not feel the age gap in between, and express themselves freely. It was amazing to witness that!
Since I was a junior advocate, I learned to be a professional.
My biggest take away was how to look at the organizations’ objectives, consider the age and background of people I am working with, and use that to build an environment that will be inclusive and comfortable to everyone.
I enhanced my team work skills by working under a supervisor this time and this changed my perspective of team work. Instead of working together in generating ideas, we were mostly told on what needs to be done and what is expected from us, all we had to do was to collaborate and unify to collectively get tasks done.
Part of my gap year will involve working with the youth and these skills will be essential when working with youth from different places. I recently ran a theatre workshop for students in Vanadzor, Armenia. I used the skills I learned from staff training at caldera to prepare my workshop, like using youth culture and it was amazing how engaged and effective it turned out. While going forward volunteering and working with people, I feel more aided and equipped with start-up experience now.