Reflecting on Growing Up As Fiver Youth

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Since I first entered the workforce, Fiver has been there for me in ways that I can’t thank enough. Even though I didn’t have a good understanding of the organization’s mission when I was growing up, once I truly understood and had the chance to give back, I accepted it without hesitation. I started volunteering through Camp Fiver during my first year as a SERVE participant. I volunteered in the office, organizing paperwork including medical forms, USDA forms, and other forms that were extremely detailed and important paperwork that I was given the responsibility for. I looked at it with an open mind and it led to me developing a passion for secretarial work. Where most people find tasks to be demeaning or time-consuming, I find peace of mind through organization - and discovered that I excelled at it.

During my last years as a youth at Fiver, I helped out in the main office and acted as a co-counselor to a group of pre-teen girls. The impact from that work has stayed with me since. Throughout college, the office and social skills I learned at Fiver helped me succeed in organization and productivity.

The best part of my experience with Fiver has been being able to work with youth from a young age myself.

Being a co-counselor resonated with me because it gave me a shot to demonstrate the responsibility and maturity that I knew I had to adults and young people in my life.

My first group for the first session were girls going into their last year of LEARN and going into TAP, or middle school. They showed me that despite the many differences that they had, they were mature enough (even at the age of 10 or 11) to settle their disputes amongst themselves, and I had forgotten that I was once myself was there. I shared many life-changing memories with them, not just for me but for them as well. They even signed my high school yearbook which I shared with them and they were so excited that they couldn’t wait for high school and their senior year to come. Shockingly now, the years have passed and they have come to their last year in high school. I often see them in the office when they come in for college help, and I continue to offer my help when I can.

I am glad that I was part of that exposure that has led them to where they are now.

My second group of campers were also campers in the LEARN program, and now they are in their first year of SERVE. It was impactful to see them go on a wilderness trip and open up about worries and challenges getting through the next step to high school and in life. I am glad that they were curious to see what life has to offer them and eager to be prepared for the world that is presented to them. One of our most memorable talks we had around puberty and sexual health. They wanted to know how to be safe during intercourse and also about STIs and other sexual issues. Despite not being a health teacher, I was able to offer a few resources I had through my connections and Fiver to answer their questions. Regardless, I was grateful that they have reached out to me instead of being unaware. I became a role model to both groups of girls and countless other campers and that continue to impress me as they grow older. When even the youngest campers who are 8 years old run into me now and get so happy to see one of their counselors from the summer, I know that not only have I made an impact but I have given them someone that they can rely on. They have given me a desire to continue working and reproduce that impact among other campers and youth.

These two experiences have stayed with me and have driven me to think of working in the social sector or in a field where my organizational skills can be put to work. I hope that in a few years time, I can go forward with trying to work with the FBI to provide help to those in underserved communities, here in the United States and even the Caribbean and other countries in Latin America. I never thought that working with youth while I was youth myself  would have opened up a way to further enhance a career in criminal justice and other dreams.