By Marybeth Bock —
Anytown is a nationally recognized, award winning leadership and social justice program for youth ages 15-19. It brings together a diverse group of students from high schools across Arizona for a weeklong, residential summer experience.
The leadership camp empowers teens to become change-agents in their schools and communities through interactive workshops, discussions and games. Camp delegates explore topics like prejudice, discrimination, and bias. They create a model for an ideal community based on respect, understanding, and inclusivity, in which members don’t just tolerate, but celebrate each other’s differences.
Amber Checky, the executive director of Arizona’s Anytown Leadership Camp, shares some helpful information about this opportunity for teens.
Why is an experience like Anytown Leadership Camp important for teens today?
High school students growing up in today’s society face challenges unlike any other. Incidences of racial, ethnic, and religious intolerance and the rise in school bullying indicate that the need is greater than ever for organizations with the capacity to bring diverse people together to end hatred. At Anytown, we learn about issues related to racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and other injustices that affect teen lives. Delegates discover appropriate and effective methods of discussing difficult topics, such as differences in race, ethnicity, religion, gender, orientation, socio-economic status, and other social identifiers.
Often feeling like they can’t make a difference, students leave the program empowered to join community groups, start student-led clubs and participate in the political landscape – shaping our future. Alumni go on to make a profound difference in their community – often leading nonprofit organizations, becoming teachers, and joining philanthropic groups. More importantly, by fostering relationships and celebrating diversity, our participants form life-long friendships that transcend the boundaries of culture, sexual identity, ability, gender and faith.
What do most campers say are the greatest benefits from an Anytown camp experience?
Here are some testimonials from the campers themselves:
Brynn Kramer, Pinnacle High School, Junior (11th Grade), attended summer 2019
“Anytown is a leadership and social justice camp that not only develops your character and motivations, but your entire community. It resonates within everyone who attends because it is such a powerful experience and leaves you with new perspectives, new friends, and a new network that you will carry into your future.”
Kenyan Cole-Suggs, North Canyon High School, Junior (11th grade) attended summer 2019
Anytown is the something you never knew you needed and can’t get enough of it once you’ve had it. After you spend your week up the mountain, learning about yourself and others, as well as building community and strong bonds, and you come back down, you just don’t know what to do. You feel lost and you instantly just want to be with your Anytown family again. It’s a family, that’s what it really is, a family that loves you and accepts you no matter who you or where you come from.
Jadeci Acuña, Central High School, Sophomore (10th grade), attended summer 2019
“Anytown was an amazing unique experience that opened my eyes to so many wonderful things and wonderful people. Go into Anytown with open arms and an open mind and just have fun.”
What’s the best way for an Arizona teen to learn more about the summer leadership camp?
Teens and their parents can learn more about Anytown by visiting our website: AnytownLeadershipCamp.org