From July 26th to August 1st, World Youth Alliance North America hosted its 8th Annual International Summer Camp at the WYA Headquarters in New York City. The International Summer Camp (ISC) is an exciting and personally enriching experience for young people ages 13-18. During this intensive one-week program, youth from all over the world come together to learn about the dignity of the human person and how this idea is the starting point for positive change. Participants learn to articulate and defend a vision of the person that is both positive and critically engaged with global issues.
This year’s ISC was the largest one to date, with twenty campers from Pakistan, Tunisia, Mexico, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Honduras, Portugal, and the United States. The camp was led by Clare Halpine (WYA North America Director) and Pauline Go (WYA North America Director of Operations), as well as ten counselors: Monica Marin, Maria Estraviz, Carissa Tinley, Michelle Volk, Lauren Benzing, Kristyn Rooney, Michael Wang, Sara Morgante, Ryan Hodge, and Xiomara Muñoz. Sara, Ryan, and Xiomara are not currently summer interns but generously volunteered their time and energy to help make this year’s camp possible.
Each morning featured presentations given by the counselors and WYA staff on various topics, such as human dignity, human rights, sustainable development, freedom, solidarity, and culture. Campers were introduced to the idea of the human person as a subject with freedom for excellence. They learned about solidarity—a unified commitment of persons in pursuit of the common good—and the role that every person can play in actively shaping culture. Campers also received advocacy training from the WYA President and had the unique opportunity to participate in a Model UN Negotiation.
Afternoons were generally filled with excursions and activities in the City. Some highlights of the camp included walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, kayaking the Hudson river, riding the historic Cyclone Rollercoaster at Coney Island, being introduced on the field before the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, touring the United Nations, and boating in Central Park with Anna Halpine, WYA’s founder. The culmination of the camp was a Barbeque and Talent Show on Friday night. Attended by several WYA friends from the area, the talent show acts included cultural song and dance, poetry, musical ensembles, comedy skits, a saxophone performance, and a silly “dignity rap” performed by all of the counselors. It was certainly a night to remember!
The 2015 ISC was a life-changing adventure for all of the young campers, who formed beautiful friendships and gained many important skills throughout the week. Campers returned home with an understanding of the intrinsic dignity of the human person as the foundation of free and just societies, and now have the confidence to share this vision with their schools and communities. Equipped to articulate, defend, and affirm the inherent and inalienable value of every human person, these young men and women have the capacity to become excellent leaders in their own regions.
See more photos from the WYA International Summer Camp here.
Read about a WYA ISC Counselor’s experience here.