Sixty-five teenagers from YMCA’s youth development programme – Raise Up – converged on Camp Adair in Auckland’s Hunua Ranges in mid-April for three days of leadership and confidence building activities. 

The annual Raise Up camp brings together young people from all 10 Raise Up crews across Auckland in preparation for the year ahead where they will organise events for youth, by youth.

Activities during the three day camp included a high-ropes course, mud run, event planning and marketing workshops and team building activities.

Adam Brown-Rigg, coordinator of the YMCA Raise Up programme, says the leadership camp is an excellent way for young people to step outside of their comfort zone, learn new skills and make new friends.

“It’s amazing to see the transformation of these young people in such a short period of time.

“Many of them come to camp as shy individuals not quite believing that they can have an impact amongst their peers and in their local community, but they leave with confidence and new found leadership skills to help them achieve big things throughout the next 12 months and in the years ahead.”

17-year-old Egypt Harris from the Clendon Raise Up crew says camp helped her gain confidence and find her voice.

“Before camp I was quite shy, but I’ve definitely built confidence by meeting new people and working closely with other Raise Up crew members.”

One of the camp highlights for Egypt was overcoming her fear of heights and completing the high ropes course – twice.

“There’s a lot of things I do where I doubt myself, but after the camp I feel like I’m more likely to try new things.”

For Egypt and her fellow crew members the year ahead will bring many exciting challenges including running well known youth events such as Walk the Line at NZ Fashion Weekend, and New Found Sound where Raise Up crews will provide a space for young musicians and artists to showcase their talent.

One of the best things about Raise Up, says Adam, is the graduation ceremony in September where crew members have a chance to reflect on how far they’ve come.

“Every day these crew members challenge the misconceptions about what youth can achieve, and it’s awesome to see these young leaders slowly emerge as they learn and achieve new things throughout their time with Raise Up.”

Raise Up – YMCA’s youth development programme – operates in 13 locations throughout New Zealand. Find out more by visiting raiseup.co.nz, or show your support for the programme by making a donation to www.everydayhero.co.nz/event/ymca-auckland-hamilton.