Summer Love: Reflections of a WYA Summer Camp Graduate

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Only two weeks left until the annual WYA Asia Pacific Summer Camp. As this year’s camp draws nearer, campers from previous years share with us their best memories. We hope it makes this year’s campers excited, and for the rest of the audience, we hope you will consider joining our camp next year!

Lord Pomperada,
Asia Pacific Director

Summer Love: Reflections of a WYA Summer Camp Graduate

WYAAP Summer Camp 2010I was 16. It was the summer of my junior year in high school. I had 16    ‘summer loves’: romances that end after summer ends. I call those 16 people my ‘summer loves’ because we became wonderful friends even though we were together for just a brief while. It was just one summer but still the memories won’t go away.

I met my ‘summer loves’ through a 5-day event that I had been anticipating ever since I first heard about the World Youth Alliance. I was questioning what I had gotten myself into because the event was not what I anticipated. However, my fears were proven wrong because that single summer event changed me positively in a way that I could have never expected.

The First Encounter with My Summer Loves

My heart thumped loudly when I was asked to introduce myself to 20 strangers who were actually the staff, interns, facilitators and summer campers of World Youth Alliance. I remember the 2-hour trip to Pangasinan where the very friendly facilitator, Ate Christine, initiated little chats and offered us beef jerky which she received from Singapore.

At Binmaley, Pangasinan, Ate Ren, the “big boss” and Regional Director of World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific, briefed us about what was going to happen in the camp. We had a very tight schedule that was attached behind our IDs that we were supposed to wear at all times. I worried that it would be boring because I thought we were just going to play and have fun. I did not imagine the lengthy plenary sessions and the 399-page training manual that we would be tackling.

The Fun and the Games

We began the camp with an icebreaker called “ball toss,” which enabled us to get to know the other campers and facilitators better by memorizing their names, birthdays, place of birth, addresses, and favorite colors. My fellow campers and I felt a lot more comfortable with each other afterwards.

It was during the first night that we formed into three different teams that we would be in during the rest of the camp. I belonged to Team Freedom, while others were Team Dignity and Team Solidarity. Together with me were Krishna, Kara and Anika. We were given 15 minutes to come up with a group cheer but we spent 13 minutes getting to know each other and created the cheer in the last two minutes. Afterwards, we were recognized as best cheer. We were so surprised that we were able to perform so well with such little time spent.

Every morning, Kuya Abel led the morning exercise with routines he had learned from his military training. It was quite challenging. “Carry on”, he said every time we imitated his tone. During the WYAmazing race we were supposed to get our first clue from Kuya JP who was standing in the beach, a few meters away from the shore. I glided through the water after getting the piece of paper where the clue was written and I tripped. I stood up soaking wet; and after a few seconds, my teammates ran into the water to help me.

I remember the strong wind blowing our papers, the pages on our manuals, and even the projector screen every noontime until around 3PM. Then, the big waves would hit our backs as we went for a swim each afternoon.  I remember watching the constellations by the beach and learning to sing “My Cadet Girl” by Kuya Abel.

The Life-changing Lessons and Experiences

We stayed up late so many nights just to finish our readings. There was one night that we were given extra time to read our manuals and we felt so happy because we had papayas and watermelons for our midnight snack. Another night we spent watching the film Les Choristes and we were so touched, most of us cried in the end.

I remember the stories, realizations, and the food that we shared as we were seated around the bonfire and also the songs that we sang when we were hosing down in the garden later on.

The Lessons Live On

The WYA Summer Camp taught me valuable experiences that have helped me a lot in life. I still remember it so vividly after 4 years. It was not just because of the things that I learned from the 399-page training manual but the bonds I made with the 16 other people I spent those 5 days with. It was not just because of the people I met but also the experiences I had with them and the ideas we have shared.

What is even better is when those ideas were put to action after the camp. Anika, Kara, Krishna, Kristi and I started World Youth Alliance Teen Club in our school during our senior year and it is now in its 4th year. I became an intern with WYA in 2012. Ate Ren was still the Regional Director and Ate Christine was already the Regional Director of Operations. Ate Des moved to New York, got married and continued to be active in the WYA Headquarters. Kuya Abel worked permanently in the military.

The WYA staff and summer campers were my “summer loves”. If my relationship with them were not shared so deeply, I would not be having these powerful memories. Even if we are in our separate ways now, individually we are still making positive change one step at a time. We do it because we are the youth and through our actions we represent the youth from all over the world.

To the youth who have also joined the World Youth Alliance summer camp, I know you have your own life changing stories to tell. For those who are about to join, you’ll receive so much more than you expect. Be sure to make room for positive change, excitement, learning, and lots of realizations.  You will not only learn about Human Dignity, Freedom, Solidarity, and Culture but also get a chance to meet like-minded people who can become your friends for the rest of your life. You will grow more as a person.  You will make a difference.

By Rejean Marie Darroca, a graduate of WYA Asia Pacific’s 2010 Summer Camp and a former regional intern at WYA Asia Pacific