I'm Possible

My name is Jorge, or Bazinga, as people know me at camp. When I was told that I got the job as a camp counselor at YMCA Camp Loma Mar, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I was at school and I was shocked. When I got home, I told my mom and I hugged her and tears started coming down.

My first week on the job I noticed a camper who had a YES t-shirt on. I said, "Oh, you're with YES. I was once a YES kid too." He said, "Really? You're from Richmond?" and I said, "Yes, and now I am a camp counselor." I told him about how YES opened many doors for me because I got involved in their programs and that he should get involved too. He was excited and was really listening to me. I realized that I was now that camp counselor inspiring a YES kid, just like my counselors had once inspired me.

Another camper told me that I had changed his life completely because of the different reflections that I would lead. Every reflection that I led, I would end saying something empowering with a quote. Every quote meant something to me personally and I would share that with them.

I did this reflection with them which was called “Burning our Fears.” I asked them to write down one of their fears and to think about how they could overcome it. Everyone would get the opportunity to share including myself. I told them that one of my biggest fears is the fear of failing. I incorporated this quote and said that my way to overcome my fear of failing is by not letting other people define my success. I told them they have to define that for themselves and pursue being the best that they can be. We then put all those pieces of paper where our fears had been written down and we burned them in the campfire.

I also did this activity I called the Loma Mar Brotherhood with my teen cabin. A friend of mine gave me the idea which I took to heart. I took my campers into the woods and told them that our cabin had been selected to be part of the Loma Mar Brotherhood and to be in it, they had to think about what they wanted to be in the future.

I blindfolded them and told them to wait 10 seconds before taking their blind fold off. It was dark and I had these glow sticks which I put on the trail to make it glow (to lead the way for my campers). I walked away and waited for them at the end of the trail. When they reached me, I said, “Congratulations, you are one step closer to becoming a member of the Loma Mar Brotherhood.” After that, they really got into it. Later, we got this piece of plywood and we wrote down our names and the date and hid the plywood at Memorial Park as a symbol of our Brotherhood. Lastly, I made them necklaces which said Brotherhood and one by one I told them to come with me. I had them close their eyes and I tied their necklace and congratulated them for being part of the Brotherhood.

Later in the week they asked me, “How did we get chosen?” I told them that I had received this letter which said, “Congratulations, your cabin has been chosen.” That was a life changing experience for me, and hopefully for them too.

On the last day of camp, we were all in a circle and we got to go around and come up with one word that would describe each of us. I had someone call me a Sensei. Other words they used to describe me were; a rock, a sponge, humbled and love. Being called a Sensei, touched me a lot. I never thought of myself as that. I just knew I love quotes. I know how to incorporate them well in conversations and where they are needed. That day I grew as a leader, I broke out of myself.

Jorge’s favorite quotes:
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible
Failing is the only thing telling me I’m trying

Jorge’s story was first shared in YES’ September 2013 eNewsletter. We are excited to update that Jorge has joined the staff team as YES' first ever Peer Advocate Intern for the Camp-to-Community (C2C) program. His role includes planning and co-leading C2C activities, conducting outreach, being a mentor, and supporting YES’ ongoing development of dynamic leadership programming.