The bus ride to YA-A-TE was filled with nervous, yet anxious students Aug. of 2012. The weeklong leadership retreat, held at Pine Cove, helps students gain leadership skills.
Although some students had worries about opening up to others, the scenery of soaring trees, a glowing lake, and cozy cabins brought out the adventurous sides in many of them. The environment of the camp encourages students to come out of their comfort zone and explore the outdoors with new friends.
“There’s always at least one student who enters YA-A-TE very shy and unsure of their self, but at some point during the retreat, something ‘clicks’ and they come out of their shell. It’s like seeing an entirely new person emerge. It’s absolutely amazing,” said Jonathan Sprinkles, the motivational speaker for the retreat.
The weeklong camp will take place Aug. 20-23, a week before the fall 2013 semester. This gives new and returning students the opportunity to learn the skills to succeed in classes, the chance to network, and begin a successful college life. Students participate in many activities and workshops that equip them with leadership skills such as how to gain good communication skills, becoming more confident and working together as a group to achieve a goal.
“It was a great experience for people coming to college. You get to meet new people, enjoy the outdoors and eat great food. They [also] have many events for you,” Jamal Cure au, former YA-A-TE attender said.
Since YA-A-TE is a summer camp, it is advertised to incoming freshman during summer orientation and around campus to returning students. To attend, students need to apply online and pay a $50 fee, which covers the stay in air-conditioned cabins, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, multiple T-shirts, and charter bus transportation from TJC to Pine Cove. The deadline for the application and fee is Aug. 5. Late registration is between Aug. 6-9 and is $100.
“It was a great experience, being able to get out and meet incoming freshmen; also being able to hang out with the returning sophomores at this camp,” said Jesus Espinoza, former tribal leader of YA-A-TE 2013.
This retreat stimulated the campers’ minds with group sessions led by Sprinkles. In one of the activities, students take a survey that puts them in certain color category, explaining their personality, work ethics, and the way they work in groups. It opened their eyes on traits they may have just discovered about themselves or need to improve on. It also allows some students to become closer because they share common attributes with other people in their group. In Sprinkle’s speeches, he explained how to be confident, stay positive, and to always include and inspire others.
“From the day I met Mr. Sprinkles at orientation, then again at camp, I knew that he could help me come out of my comfort zone. He was really funny but at the same time, serious enough to leave a positive message on me and other students who needed to find themselves, too,” Da’Vonte Wade, Apache Chief and past Ya-a-te camper, said.
Students coming out of this retreat are equipped with long lasting lessons that are intended to be demonstrated around campus. Tyler Junior College encourages students to become the new president of an organization, join an organization, or even start one. This inspiration challenges students to not only become more involved on campus, but to show leadership skills by helping other students.
“I always provide motivation to be more active on campus, but now more than ever, my passion is to get people to start a movement. I’m tired of ‘leadership as usual.’ I want to see more activism, more strategic partnerships, and more people being served. I expect to see a shift in the entire Tyler, Texas community due to the efforts of some TJC students who are committed to their dream,” Sprinkles said.
After the workshops are done for the day, the campers are able to put their new learned lessons to work. Activities such as, water balloon dodge ball, canoeing games and kickball put students to the test on becoming a leader. As the days go on, personal shells begin to break and the tribes begin to bond like a family. Group members cheer one another on more and gladly perform their chants when they win a game.
At night, everyone has the opportunity to interact with each tribe at events such as, a “Stoplight Party”, Casino night, trip to a water park and scary movies. Also, Pine Cove provides hands-on activities for campers like a zip-line, swimming pool, canoeing, basketball, football and volleyball. This time allows students to bond even more and got to know each other without competitiveness.
“I would recommend YA-A-TE to students because it’s a great experience for people coming into college. You get to meet new people and you enjoy the outdoors,” Doquez Owens, a past attender, said.
For more information, such as what to bring, where it is located and where to register, students can go online to the TJC website and search Apache YA-A-TE in the search bar or contact the Center of Student Life Office at (903) 510- 2797.