For some youths, summer camp provides all the traditional offerings of canoeing, cabins and popsicle-stick crafts. For the select 20 who will spend a June week in Washington as participants in the Next Generation Leadership Foundation’s Leadership Camp, however, crafting will have nothing to do with yarn projects, but everything to do with these LGBT teens crafting their futures.
”It’s going to be a high-impact series of days,” promises Sean Bugg, NGLF’s president and executive director, as well as Metro Weekly‘s editor emeritus. ”Once you start putting an agenda together, and you want to make sure you’re spending time building the network among the participants and talking with them about leadership skills and strategies for themselves as they’re getting ready to go to college or start their careers, things fill up really quickly.”
Arriving Sunday, June 15, those selected students will then have four very full days of meeting with D.C.’s LGBT movers and shakers representing a range of fields, before heading home Friday, June 20.
”One of the reasons we’re doing it in D.C. is we have access to so many people who are eager to be a part of the program, whether that be as a presenter or to work with small groups of participants who are interested in their particular field,” says Bugg of his foundation’s Leadership Camp launch. ”We have all of those resources here and people are being very generous about offering their time.”
With the application process opened March 18, Bugg says applications for the 20 student slots began arriving immediately from across the country. Beyond the opportunity to learn from professionals with plenty to share, those students selected after the April 18 deadline will also receive transportation to Washington and accommodations at the Washington Hilton. To be eligible, applicants must be graduating from high school in 2014, must identify as LGBT, and be 18 by June 15. Beyond that, an NGLF advisory panel will examine applicants’ academic and extracurricular records, as well as potential. Bugg adds, however, that while there are only 20 spots, those applicants not selected will still be starting a relationship with NGLF, which he hopes will provide them with other valuable leadership opportunities.
As for the camp itself, that’s one opportunity that is unmatched.
”Just giving any young person the opportunity to see that they can do whatever they want with their lives, and trying to give them some of the tools to make it happen, is important,” says Bugg. ”Doing it for LGBT youth – while there a lots of wonderful services and programs out there, from [the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network] to Campus Pride, locally at [Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders], things like Trevor Project, Point Foundation giving scholarships – there was nothing like this. There are lots of programs like the Leadership Camp for African-American youth, for Latino youth, regionally identified youth, all kinds of programs, but there had been none for LGBT youth. This is fulfilling a need in the community.”
For more information about the Next Generation Leadership Foundation’s Leadership Camp, or to apply, visit nglf.org/leadership.