At Agassiz Village, we are change. For Slovan, it is seven years of change and personal growth at our overnight, summer camp in Poland, Maine that has prepared him for life’s journey. Your support is a big part of Slovan’s success and why he wanted to share his story with you. I hope his story inspires you to give again this year.
“As a child I feared the idea of change—simply because it happened too often to truly understand it. My mother had me at a young age and I moved around a lot during my childhood. My father was absent for the most part.
It was my grandfather, who helped shape the man I am today. He also introduced me to Agassiz. He was a camper in 1959 and would tell me stories about escaping the city life into the great outdoors at Agassiz.
I was 13 my first year at Agassiz and experienced for myself many of the memories my grandfather shared. After 3 years as a camper, I made the jump to INSTEP, a 4-week teen leadership development program. This was the beginning of my transformation.
We participated in workshops to help establish and strengthen self and social awareness skills, to learn tolerance for others, as well as develop culture and gender sensitivity. Nowhere else in my experiences was I given this opportunity. I grew a lot that summer, but I also made some wrong decisions, driven by a false sense of who I was, a false bravado. This almost cost me everything.
It’s ironic how you can do so much good and one bad decision can ruin it all. This really put things into perspective. Thankfully, Agassiz gave me a second chance, which led to me becoming a camp counselor.
My first year as a counselor was also the first summer Agassiz introduced its Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Program. I participated in workshops and activities where I learned to have empathy for others, to recognize and manage my emotions, and to react with logic instead of influence or provocation.
These concepts have helped develop who I am today—from the way I speak, the way I walk, to the way I perceive others and how I choose for others to perceive me.
Agassiz is change. I know this because I have been a camper, I have been a counselor, and I am now part of the leadership team. I have made plenty of mistakes in the past—I still do—but Agassiz Village has helped me learn from those mistakes and grow as a person. I am excited to continue my role at Agassiz Village and my new adventure as a college student in Civil Engineering at a college in Boston.
I am indebted to each of you who have supported this great organization and given me, and thousands of other campers, the opportunity to experience this journey of growth and change. I cannot thank you enough.”