Buddy Stories 3- LEAD


A Journey through the LEAD Program


Diana was referred to the Buddy Program at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, as she was finishing 6th grade.  Diana had a history of disrespectful behavioral issues at school, and her Middle School Counselor hoped that involving her in our LEAD (Leadership through Exploration, Action and Discovery) group programming would help her develop her teamwork and social skills.

Diana attended DREAM Day Camp as her first Buddy Program experience.  She was shy at first and identified that she was nervous and reluctant to meet new people and make new friends.  As camp went on and she hiked, did a high ropes course, participated in a collaborative mural project, and rock climbed, Diana proved to be a ready participant, kind to others, respectful, and positive.  When our LEAD Programs Director reported this back to Diana’s School Counselor in the fall, she couldn’t believe it – Diana’s behavior through DREAM Day Camp sounded like night and day from her behavior at school.  Was this a place Diana could shine?

In 7th grade, Diana joined The Buddy Program’s first Outdoor Leadership session at her school.  She fluctuated between being an enthusiastic leader in the program and getting wrapped up in Middle School drama, talking back disrespectfully to adults and peers, and refusing to participate.  Her mother reported challenging behaviors at home, including running away and talking back.  She was worried about Diana’s decision-making and that she was going to get herself into dangerous situations. The following summer she attended our high school Youth Camp in Moab, Utah, for the first time and returned to DREAM Day Camp for her second year.  She LOVED Youth Camp and after spending 5 days as one of the youngest campers there, she embraced her time at DREAM Day Camp as an opportunity to be a leader and a positive role model for younger students.

During her 8th grade year, Diana continued to participate in Outdoor Leadership at her school.  She attended Monthly Activities and camp reunions.  She uncovered some personal challenges from her childhood that required extra support, and Diana began receiving counseling services outside of school. She regularly discusses her counseling with our LEAD Programs Director, debriefing the experience and sharing her growth.  Diana returned to Youth Camp and has become an active advocate for our programs amongst her peers, encouraging others to sign up.  During Outdoor Leadership’s spring trip this past March, and at Youth Camp this past June, Diana opened up in group settings to her peers about her life experiences and her own path of personal growth, often being the first to speak in sharing circles and prompting others to relax and tell their own stories.

Diana entered High School this year and is already planning to sign up for Outdoor Leadership there when she is a Sophomore.  She testifies that the Buddy Program has helped her and her family, and that during the course of three years of participation with our programs, she has become more social with other youth and has improved her relationships with her family.  During her 8th grade year, Diana spent over 200 hours of time in Buddy Program activities, including camps, Monthly Activities, and Outdoor Leadership.

We can’t wait to see how this student will continue to develop as an individual as she continues Youth Camp and Outdoor Leadership and grows into a young adult.  Thank you for supporting Diana and other students like her!

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