Most kids go to summer camp to learn wilderness survival skills. However, a new camp in New York is teaching Harlem kids survival skills for the real world.
“Brave Camp” is taking place this week at Camp Stomping Ground in Middle Grove, Saratoga County.
The camp teaches mindfulness, meditation and music to a group of tweens. The global nonprofit “Today, I’m Brave” has partnered with Harlem Youth United to recruit 36 underfunded middle school kids ages 10 to 14 at no cost to their families.
On Thursday, campers took part in a team-building activity before experiencing a sound bath paired with a meditation on reaching their highest potential. They then wrote their dreams on a “dream board”.
“Bravery is having the courage to be who you are. And that takes a lot of courage,” said “Today I am brave” Founder David Angelo.
Angelo says he founded the nonprofit and camp, which held its first session last year in California, after growing up without the means to go to camp. He founded the David & Goliath ad agency nearly 23 years ago, and since he found success as an adult, he says, he wanted to pay it forward. He founded “Today, I’m Brave” in 2016, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Camp teaches community, empathy, adaptability and trust. You can find out more about the program here.
“There’s so much pressure in today’s world with social media and their peer groups and just growing up,” Angelo said, discussing the struggles kids face to stay true to themselves- same.
At Brave Camp, campers write their fears on rocks and watch them sink in the water.
“Once they understand who they are, they can build the life they’ve always wanted,” Angelo said. They can really crystallize their dreams, determine where they are going and live a life of authenticity. This is probably the best time they can have this type of exposure as there are a lot more challenges ahead of them as they move into adulthood.
Lyzayana Duran is about to start 7th grade. The camper says this week she kayaked for the first time. She was also able to reflect on her fears.
“I’m afraid to die, afraid of heights,” she said, listing them. “It helped me realize some things that you really shouldn’t be afraid of because ultimately you can beat them.”
Duran says the woods aren’t as bad as she thought.
“I expected the camp food to be pretty bad, but it’s actually not,” she said.
The camp ends at the end of the week, with the goal of bringing back the same group of campers for the next four years.