Imagine playing a game of dodgeball with a bunch of people you’ve just met. You can’t see a thing. You’re blindfolded, listening closely as a partner blurts out step-by-step directions to the nearest ball.

“Now pick it up and throw it!” … “Where?!” … “Straight ahead!” The room rumbles with laughter as dozens of teens and tweens duck and dodge, some nailing their targets, others missing spectacularly.

It’s Teen Takeover at Camp Sealth, a youth leadership retreat for middle schoolers. More than 40 youth from across Western Washington spent the first weekend in May immersed in all kinds of fun and games, learning leadership lessons from one activity to the next.

Giving and taking directions during blindfolded dodgeball, they honed their communication and active listening skills, while building trust. Later on, they constructed water balloon catapults, collaborating creatively, stepping up with their own ideas, and allowing room for others to contribute theirs.

As an introspective art project, they created “leadership pizzas” by listing values they strive to uphold as leaders in the “crust” and coloring in the “slices” as part of a self-assessment of their
strengths and opportunities to improve.

“Before this, I really hadn’t thought about what I need to work on,” says Nyla Math, a sixth
grader from Southeast Seattle. She feels good about how flexibly she can work with people and
wants to get better at staying calm.

Nyla’s big sister, Mel, a seventh-grader, aspires to be a positive, inclusive, supportive, kind, aware and patient leader. Both girls are eagerly awaiting their chance to step up as Counselors-
in-Training at Camp Sealth, where they’ve had a blast at overnight camp several summers in a row.

In addition to Teen Takeover, our only leadership retreat tailored specifically to middle schoolers, kids in sixth, seventh and eighth grades can take part in monthly Teens in Action meetings and service projects throughout the year.

With your continued support, we will keep working to expand year-round leadership
opportunities for Camp Fire youth.

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