Camp Vohokase, our flagship youth leadership program, allows sixteen young men from select cities around the country to make a four-year commitment to growing and becoming valuable leaders in their own lives and communities. Besides hosting them at our ten-day in-person camp each summer, we also visit them in their hometowns three times a year and take part in bi-weekly phone calls. This allows us to bond with them and provide a chance for them to give back to their neighborhoods through a pre-planned service project. This encourages character building and brings about opportunities that are right in their backyard, which is part of our mission!
The winter hometown visits seem to be the most impactful. Like most people, the young men have a mood shift during the colder, darker days of the year as the options of outdoor activities lessen and schedules become packed with educational priorities. It’s our goal to help them kick the winter blues by offering them a chance to support charitable efforts in their own communities while letting them enjoy themselves, too.
Our first winter hometown visit was with our Junior class from Darke County, Ohio — Ethan, Chastan, and Dakota. This is a very important location for the Light Foundation, as it’s where our headquarters are located and where we make a significant impact through our Leadership Academy. The local campers’ proximity to our home base gives them the opportunity to aid in the other youth programs we offer to area youth.
Most recently, the Junior classmen assisted with our outdoor literacy program offered to Darke County first graders, the LIGHT Project. We hosted a Family Fun Day at Shawnee Prairie Preserve where all enrolled in the program listened to a book read by Mandy Martin, Darke County Parks Naturalist, and then took part in a scavenger hunt in the fresh snow.
The young men used this opportunity to be role models to the younger program participants. They guided the young readers on their adventure and helped them understand the importance of learning how to read and explore the outdoors.
After the Family Fun Day with the LIGHT Project, the campers understood the gravity of giving back not only to their community, but also to the youth. Paying it forward causes the younger generation to follow suit. Because Chastan, Ethan, and Dakota showed up to help, they’ll lead by example for the first-graders in the program.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon by sharing great conversation over a meal, an intense game of
bowling and some basketball!
A great deal of thanks goes to Darke County Parks and Mandy Martin for hosting 25 students at Shawnee Prairie Preserve. When we partner with like-minded organizations, it helps us reach our mission of providing young people with unique opportunities that ignite their passion, purpose, and motivation to succeed.
Stay tuned for our next blog. Our sophomore class from Indian Township in Maine will be participating in indiginous traditions by delivering frozen moose meat to the elderly of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.