Andrea Clark, who won a 1991 Columbia Association scholarship for her community service work as a Hammond High School student, has returned to teach the values of leadership and community service to another generation.
Ms. Clark, 21, an English and psychology major entering her senior year at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, is the new director of the Columbia Association's Teen Leadership Camp for middle school students, one of 13 summer camps offered by the nonprofit corporation that runs Columbia's recreational facilities and community programs.
The Kings Contrivance village resident was tapped by the association to organize and direct the camp, which starts June 27, based on her five years' experience as a counselor at a Maryland Leadership Workshop camp for middle school students at Washington College on the Eastern Shore.
"I enjoy seeing the light bulb come on in the kids' heads," Ms. Clark said. "It's a struggle at first convincing them it's not school, that it can be fun. Watching them use the skills I talk about, that's when I get pleasure."
The focus of the leadership camp, which can accommodate 15 to 20 children, will be a community service project planned and carried out by the campers using skills they learn from Ms. Clark and assistant Kirsten Willging.
The camp, which features four two-week sessions, also includes an overnight retreat with "trust" games; a trip to Annapolis and a cruise on the Chesapeake Bay; and sessions focusing on group dynamics, listening skills, self-awareness and cultural diversity.
"If we don't teach them now that they can be empowered, that they're in charge of things and can control their own fate, when are they going to learn it?" Ms. Clark said. "I want them to know they have the power to change what's going on."
Ms. Clark won a $1,000 scholarship from CA largely for her work on the Howard County Association of Student Councils while a student at Hammond High. She lobbied the county Board of Education to allow middle schools to set up student governments and taught sessions in middle schools on leadership skills.
"It's very exciting to think that somebody who grew up here now would be serving in this capacity," said Ann Scherr, assistant director of CA's Community Services division. "When you award community service scholarships, you always hope they'll go on and keep participating in community service. When you see Andrea's interest in that area, we know we made the right choice."
Ms. Scherr said she believes middle school students will enjoy the leadership camp, even though it might not sound enticing.
"They just got out of school and this doesn't sound like so much fun, but this leadership camp is going to be quite different," she said. "They'll have the opportunity at a young age to develop some leadership skills some of us as adults are still working on acquiring."
Ms. Clark spent the spring semester at Salt's Documentary and Field Study Center, an organization which documents the folklore and people of Maine and publishes a magazine. Ms. Clark who is black, wrote a 300-page manuscript thesis on growing up black in Maine, which has a black population of less than 1 percent, after interviewing about 25 children.
Columbia Association camps, which serve pre-school children through high school sophomores and cater to a wide range of interests, start Monday and run through Aug. 19 in one- or two-week sessions.
The camps range from $90 to $285 per session for Columbia residents. A half-price discount is available for families who meet income eligibility guidelines.