By TAMARA JAYNE
Who am I? Who could I be?
Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development states that the time between ages 13 to 18 is a critical stage of a young person’s life wherein their identity is formed.
This stage bridges the experiences of childhood with the anticipation of adulthood, forming personal belief systems, values and goals.
As a social enterprise committed to transforming our nation one leader at a time, Leaderonomics operates upon the belief that in building up young people during this pivotal formative period, we are building the future.
Every Leaderonomer is encouraged to support young people in this critical journey, and most of us do so by volunteering to organise and facilitate leadership development camps for young people of various ages.
Held during school vacations, these camps provide a fresh environment where participants meet and interact with peers from different walks of life, learn to overcome challenges, step out of their comfort zones, discover their leadership potential, and empower themselves to make a difference in their community.
We invited several Leaderonomics camp alumni to share their experience as campers. Those who went on to become camp facilitators also spoke about what their new roles revealed to them.
Alynna Lye, 20
I started attending DIODE camps when I was 15. Back then, as a camper, I was very timid. After joining DIODE camps, I changed a lot. I’m currently a facilitator.
As a facilitator, we need to learn to be a role model and to manage a team. Guiding those in your group and making sure everyone is on the same page despite different backgrounds is a challenge, but as a facilitator, I’ve been learning how to convey the message to them.
Through the camps, I’ve learnt that our attitude makes a huge difference in our lives. It’s important to be assertive and not aggressive.
Throughout camp, I’ve learnt that I can either run from an issue, be aggressive or be assertive.
Assertiveness is a useful in-between response. I believe it will also be useful when I enter the working world. I used to be quite afraid of speaking up in public but I’ve been learning how to overcome that fear at camp.
Learning all these values teaches me how to deal with people in a better way. Our peers observe how we treat them and learn from that. This has taught me that it is important to deal with people well.
Darren Lau, 18
Leaderonomics camps changed my life. I used to be very shy growing up but after attending my first camp (a DIODE Camp), I started speaking out and that helped me a lot throughout upper secondary school.
One important lesson I have learnt is that everyone goes through a journey. You’re not alone. If you encounter a setback and simply give up, then you’re just going to stay where you are but if you look ahead and challenge and push yourself out of your comfort zone, you will get through.
At one camp, my team was given a project – an opportunity to make a difference at a home for single mothers.
We cleaned up the house, planted flowers and banana trees, and carried huge fallen branches away to clear the area. As we were leaving, some of the women had tears of joy in their eyes. I believe we made a difference for them even though our contributions were seemingly small acts.
I think there are a lot of negative stigmas in the world. It’s important to not just look at one side of the story. Be open to new experiences. . . it will make life more interesting.
Shriya Shan, 16
I joined camp because I wanted to meet new people of different backgrounds from all over Malaysia. I started attending Leaderonomics’ camps when I was 12.
The first day of SPARK camp, we learnt about ourselves – our strengths, weaknesses, and personality types. I’ve been personally learning about project management and how to work in a team with different group dynamics.
We were assigned to visit an old folks’ home where we needed to figure out how we were going to make a difference in their lives. We cooked lunch for them, baked a cake and did some gardening for them.
The way I am learning to interact with diverse people of various backgrounds will continue to be useful to me when I work with others later in life. I’ve learnt to see the perspectives of youths from both the rural and city areas. As group leader of my team, it is interesting to hear from both sides.
Daryl Lau, 18
I’ve learnt how to coach campers on speaking in public and planning projects. Some of the campers applied these skills in the projects we were assigned to.
My group went to an old folks’ home where many of the residents were bedridden. We weren’t expecting bedridden residents.
However, we adapted and improvised, personally feeding them the food we had cooked. It took a lot of patience but my team members didn’t complain or get angry. They just did this patiently and even cracked jokes, which made the residents smile.
It was really touching to see the campers interacting so well with the older folks. At camp, they were very shy and some even had language barriers but when we were at the home, it turned into a completely different scene.
Back when I first started attending DIODE (six years ago), I was very shy and didn’t interact much with others. I’ve grown as an individual and have learned to step out of my comfort zone to talk to or coach others and do what I can to influence those in my world today.
If there is one thing I can change in this world, it would be to help underprivileged kids. We often hear of people helping refugees but we often neglect those who are right at our doorstep. It’s really disheartening to see, so that’s the one thing I would change.
Zachary Lau, 20
I started attending DIODE camps when I was 14. As a camper, I learnt soft skills (public speaking, how to manage a team, breaking boundaries and motivating people to push out of their comfort zone) and now, as a facilitator, I apply those soft skills I’ve learnt over the years. DIODE also gave me the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds.
Attending camp is great but coming back and facilitating is even better because you get to apply and practice the soft skills that you have picked up.
When you apply for jobs in the future, employers will want to see how you have made an impact on people, not just what you’ve studied. Camps definitely help in that way.
To find out more about our youth division at Leaderonomics, head on over to www.leaderonomics.org/ldryouth
Tamara was previously an assistant editor and writer with Leaderonomics. She loves thought-provoking conversations over cups of tea. If she is not writing, you might find her hiking up a mountain in search of a new waterfall to explore.