Our core program is Esteemed Growth/Camp CARRY. This program is runs from September to June to align with the school year. It’s offered once per month, specifically to children in middle school: ages 12 – 14. Most of the children who participate in the program do not have a stable home or an ongoing adult presence in the home.
We developed Camp CARRY because our findings aligned with those of other researchers regarding the critical emotion of self-esteem and its ancillary emotions: “In working to encourage young people to develop and rely on their own assets, the most promising programs focus on each young person’s abilities while taking into consideration his/her individual family, social, cultural and school environment. Such programs focus on developing young people’s self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-worth.”
The Esteemed Growth program affords participants the opportunity to develop their self-esteem and social skills while learning basic life skills, including:
- Self-esteem workshops held by mental health professionals.
- Social skills training, including developing the soft skills of mutual respect, active listening, collaboration, time management skills, personal integrity, leadership.
- Healthy lifestyles, including basic nutrition, personal grooming, exercise, and refusal skills regarding high-risk behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, and sex.
- Goal-setting, including self-reliance, future planning, personal finance skills, educational and vocational options, career paths and the required preparation for a career.
- Dealing with new social situations, deportment, etiquette, and finding resources to prepare for new situations
Independent life skills, e.g., cooking, shopping, and fiscal responsibility.
- Discovering new environments close to home: Most participants have not traveled beyond their own communities ─ not even to the beach ─ so Camp CARRY takes them on field trips to museums, cultural institutions, the beach, and the mountains to broaden their horizons.
The Program is volunteer driven. Some volunteers are experts in their field, who give guidance on how they achieved their goals. Many are mentors. These are caring adults who are glad to listen and share advice. A volunteer mental health professional is always on-site conducting group workshops, and is available for brief consultations with participants.