Thenjiwe in Orgeon, US

Student alumni will take over Imagine Scholar’s managerial positions by 2020. Mandisa and Thenjiwe, two alumni, recently gained valuable hands-on leadership experience by visiting the US to gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of running an international nonprofit organization. Below, Thenjiwe writes about her experience at the end of her trip.


Well folks as I had promised; an update on my adventurous exploration of the United States, specifically Camp Caldera:

I want to start by saying thank you to Imagine Scholar and Caldera for the wonderful opportunity to learn, grow and pass on all the great knowledge I got from this trip. I have figured that Camp Caldera is like Imagine Scholar in a way; you can never really explain the positive vibes and energy in the atmosphere there enough for anyone who has never been to understand or relate. One just has to be there in order to understand the greatness of these two environments.

Thenji at Caldera

Thenjiwe at Camp Caldera

Working as an advocate at Caldera was a challenge I would love to go through again. All of the youths were divided into groups and my group was comprised of 10 amazing young women. Every night we had teepee time where just my girls and I would meet and talk about anything. This was a way for us to get to know each other personally and professionally. We became one happy group and for the rest of camp no matter how long and hard a day was, we looked forward to teepee time. We looked forward to all the funny, sad, crazy, informative stories we shared together. Writing about it now makes me realize how we had actually built our own little camp and had become a family within the Caldera community.

Being an advocate challenged my creativity and mental strength. We worked with youth from different parts of Oregon who had different life experiences and unique stories to tell. Somehow all that difference had to be put to one same community. As an advocate I had to think outside the box in coming up with creative ideas to break the ice in my teepee group and make sure we kept a respectful space. I loved it!

“Working at Camp Caldera helped me grow in so many ways and I love that now I look back at all those leadership challenges and smile at how I overcame them” –Thenjiwe

hiking in OR

Thenjiwe and Mandisa hike in Oregon

I would not have done it without the help of the other advocates and my supervisors, though. Caldera will shock you with the great sense of community and family that they have built with the youth there, but nothing beats the friendliness of the staff. My goodness they are so nice! They were all so very supportive and it’s nothing I have ever experienced before, at least not as far as outside Imagine Scholar. I am really grateful for that.

The sad part was going home after having made so many friends and connected with so many young man and women from halfway across the world. I will never forget the life I shared with that community. I like how they also encourage me to come back home to my Imagine Scholar students who need me. I love how they were interested in and respected Imagine Scholar. Camp Caldera was Awesome!

Oh and by the way my teepee group name was Team Awesome! Yes, with an exclamation mark at the end! I love my group and hope to see everyone again!

Thank you Imagine Scholar and Caldera!! You are truly awesome!

Read Part 1 of Thenjiwe’s experience in the US

By sponsoring a Scholar, or making a donation to Imagine Scholar you can support young leaders in endeavors like this! We look forward to welcoming you to our family.



Teepee’s at Camp Caldera