By TJ Davis
Conversations with local government officials, meeting with local business leaders and a mentorship session with local entrepreneurs all highlight the career-building that 26 students had last week as part of the 2018 Loudoun Youth Leadership Program.
The students also toured the Freedom Center in Leesburg, Breezy Meadow Farm in Lovettsville, Long Stone Farm in Lovettsville, CEA Farms in Purcellville, and the Morven Park mansion just outside of Leesburg. They heard about the history of each of the sites, as well as their daily operations.
The camp, now in its eighth year, is put on by Loudoun Youth Inc. It’s a week-long program that invites students to observe local leaders and take part in team-building activities to gain leadership skills.
“The youth we meet through Loudoun Youth Leadership Program are intelligent, kind, eager individuals who give me such hope for our future,” Loudoun Youth Inc. program director Michelle Jones said. “I love seeing them connect with their peers from across the county, as well as interact with leaders from various industries. It’s really rewarding to provide a unique opportunity that hopefully leaves a lasting impression, as well as lasting friendships.”
The camp also provides an opportunity for students to socialize and make new friends, especially considering this year’s camp boasts students from 14 different schools. Arshmeena Aamir, a rising senior at Dominion High School, said that she bonded with students from other schools whom she would have otherwise not met.
“I like the camp because it forced me out of my comfort zone,” said Rina Cho, a rising junior at Broad Run High School. “I’ve [had] to introduce myself and socialize with other people who are similar to me in goals. We got to [learn about] all sorts of different careers. It gave me a lot to think about and I’m more open-minded.”
At the end of the camp, the students each gave a brief presentation among their peers about what they learned and also their personal plan for success.
“Loudoun Youth Inc.’s hope is to strengthen the youths’ leadership skills to help them understand various ways people communicate and to help them feel connected with their community,” Jones said. “Our larger goal is that these youth return to their high schools and apply these skills, bettering their entire school community.”
TJ Davis is a summer intern at Loudoun Now, studying journalism at Liberty University.