I was 11. I was 11 years old and already angry, already sad, already lost, already self conscious. I was only 11 and I was already seeing a counselor every week. I was only 11 when I found out about some summer camp through a teacher at my school.
I was only 11 when my life changed forever because of one week. One week at Camp Lee in Mount Charleston. One week at PB&J Leadership summer camp. One week at 11 years old, that would save my life.
PB&J Leadership Training Inc is a non-profit organization set out to turn middle school to high school aged kids into bold leaders in their community. They take anti- alcohol and drug stands, along with being a part of the fight against bullying. They turn teens into role models and show the way towards positive life choices. It's an organization that brings up the youth we need for a bright future. They do all of this starting with a one week summer camp.
On the bus ride up to Camp Lee I had no idea what I had just gotten myself into. I had no idea I was about to take the first step into the organization that would become a major part my life for the next 6 years. I spent my days at camp with my "family group". By the end of the week I had laughed, cried and learned along side these people. They had actually become my family. Six year later I still talk to members of this group, even the adult staff, a man named Carlos who became a father figure to me when I needed the most support. I would have never had the chance to get to know these people without camp.
I spent that week playing games, going on hikes, sitting at campfires, playing flag football, listening to guest speakers and eating amazing food. All of this simultaneously turning me from angry to open. From a scared girl to a confident girl. I now realized I had something to offer the world. I had a brand new attitude and mindset that I was ready to share because of one week with PB&J Leadership camp.
(from left) Myself, Megan Harris, and Jill Mendoza in camp 2016 shirts.
I am now 17. I am 17 and I am positive, I am strong, confident, outspoken, and wise. I am 17 and I am a leader. I am 17, a 6 year attendee and a third year staff member at PB&J Leadership camp.
I am the current vice president of my theatre, next year's president and a theatre officer for the whole state of Nevada. These are positions I would have had no idea how to handle without PB&J. This camp changed me for the better. Each summer for the past six years I have gone to camp. I learn more about myself, I learn more about others, I learn from others and I teach others.
PB&J is a week of classic summer camp activities intertwined with leadership lessons that stick with kids for a life time. PB&J becomes a family and a support system for every camper who passes through the program. Every person leaves an imprint on one another.We have outstanding members community come to speak to campers to show outside influence towards a better life. We have speakers like entertainment performers, motivational speakers, police officers, and members of the military come to participate with campers.
PB&J has built a positive 30 year reputation for being an outrageously amazing youth program. Michael Palmieri, one of the directors of PB&J, has been attending camp since it opened in 1987. His passion for camp has made it a part of his life and thousands of other peoples. David Wright, the other director of PB&J, has played a great hand in the evolution of PB&J. These two men are the reason camp has created so many phenomenal leaders and touched so many lives.
This years PB&J camp is the 30 year anniversary and an ode to leaders of the past, present and future. There will be a day camp at Sewell Elementary school July 3rd and camp will be held in Camp Lee July 5th-9th. Sign up middle- high school aged teens before the end of May to ensure their spot at this life changing summer camp. Applications can be turned in on their website pbandjleadership.org. Follow their instagram account @pbandj_leadership to see pictures of this amazing camp.