“Footsteps to Success” is one of two camps founded by Andre Fullerton and community partners, created to become involved with youth, and to help urban communities to move forward. The three Footsteps to Success locations are Blessed Mother Teresa CSS, Father Henry Carr CSS, and St. Timothy CS. The goal is to build up the community by investing in youth, to give them a different outlook, stronger self-identification, and expose them to different opportunities. The Focus on Youth students bring youthful perspective, positive energy, enthusiasm, and serve as great role models. The camps are split into Arts and Crafts, Leadership, or Sports sections. Footsteps is affiliated with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, and the Malvern Family/Community Resource Centre. It is also sponsored by supporting partners like Urban Arts, Toronto Community Housing, Jays Care, Kaleidoscope (Scarborough Arts), and Focus on Youth, among others.
Footsteps to Success is one of two camps founded by Andre Fullerton and community partners, created to become involved with youth, and to help urban communities to move forward. The three Footsteps to Success locations are Blessed Mother Teresa CSS, Father Henry Carr CSS, and St. Timothy CS. The goal is to build up the community by investing in youth, to give them a different outlook, stronger self-identification, and expose them to different opportunities. Footsteps Camp is for youth ages 10-15, and runs from July 4th – August 12th, offering free admission. The Focus on Youth students bring youthful perspective, positive energy, enthusiasm, and serve as great role models. The weekly agenda of this camp includes serving breakfast along with a morning introduction done by the Focus on Youth camp counselors every morning to get the campers energized and ready for their day, then the campers then go on with their daily routine whether they are in Arts and Crafts, Leadership, or Sports camp. Once a week they go on a field trip to exciting places such as the Ontario Science Centre, Canada’s Wonderland, Royal Ontario Museum, Centre Island, Wild Water Kingdom, University of Toronto Varsity Sports Centre, and other weekly trips to local parks and libraries. Footsteps is affiliated with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, and the Malvern Family/Community Resource Centre. It is also sponsored by supporting partners like Urban Arts, Toronto Community Housing, Jays Care, Kaleidoscope (Scarborough Arts), and Focus on Youth, among others.
FOOTSTEPS ARTS CAMP
Being part of Focus on Youth has truly been a rewarding experience. This program is a great opportunity for both the campers and staff, for it gives us the time to work together. Footsteps to Success creates an environment where the children can build relationships with staff and always have someone they can talk to. Coming to work on the first day, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As the day progressed I was able to recognize old faces as well as new. Believe it or not I was actually terrified and if it weren’t for my vibrant purple t-shirt many would have mistaken me for a camper. The truth is that this camp would not be a successful without the campers or the staff, it is simply collaboration. Both parties have to cooperate with one another and be open to trying new things. With each passing day I became more comfortable around my peers and was able to see the warm personalities and attributes of each camper. Friendships were built amongst both the staff and campers in the various sections of the camp.
I am a proud member of the art camp. I consider myself an aspiring artist and I wanted to guide budding artists in the right direction. The art camp revolves around several activities that bring out artistic abilities in the campers and the staff. I thought the art camp would represent basic art skills like drawing and coloring but in reality it has so much more to offer. Campers and staff would create things from authentic teddy bears to Masquerade masks. I was surprised to learn alongside the campers about countless art skills that I wasn’t aware of prior to this camp. Throughout the summer, in the art camp we have had many workshops. Through this camp, campers as well as the staff were introduced and exposed to established artists in the society such as drummers, dancers and spoken word artists. These workshops gave both the children and the staff an opportunity to learn and try something new.
Aside from learning more about art I also learned quite a lot about myself. Before this opportunity came my way I’d explain myself as somewhat shy. I mean don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t hide in the corner but I just didn’t attain those leadership skills that was necessary for increased success. But through this camp I was given a platform to grow and mold into my whole self and become a leader. When I think back about this experience have nothing but great friendships and memories to talk about. Something I really looked forward to everyday was helping out with the breakfast program and serving the kids breakfast. Their happy excited faces practically lit up the room. Every morning the children would come to the table and tell new stories. The conversation at the table was a time to bond and at that moment I felt more connected with the children. I am thankful for having this opportunity; it really is a lot fun. It helped me better understand myself. If given the opportunity to do this again, I would definitely accept it in a heartbeat.
Reema Xavier, Footsteps to Success Arts Camp, Blessed Mother Teresa
FOOTSTEPS LEADERSHIP CAMP
It is my first year being a Focus on Youth staff and it has been a phenomenal experience. This program is a great experience for both campers and staff. As a staff, you learn a lot about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, a lot about people and their personalities and how to handle various types of situations. As a camper, you get the chance to expand your area of interest whether it is arts, leadership or sports. You also get the opportunity to go on many trips such as wild water kingdom, swimming once a week and many more. Throughout the six weeks, you start to develop friendships with the kids and you will notice that they start to look at you as their older sister or brother, or as a mentor. I worked with the leadership kids and had them play many games and activities that helped them to get to know one another and develop their leadership skills. They got to step out of their comfort zone, and solved situations that came their way and continuously challenged them with games that motivate, inspire and create them into leaders that they will be. I am truly grateful for this opportunity because it truly is a life changing experience. Watching the kids that you supervise and teach, watching them grow and learn has got to be the most rewarding feeling anyone could ask for.
-Princess Javier, Footsteps to Success Leadership Camp, Blessed Mother Teresa
FOOTSTEPS SPORTS CAMP
Working as a Focus on Youth sports counselor has been a wonderful experience. I have learned a lot not only from being in the sports field but by working with the kids. In the sports field we have a variety of activities. We play basketball, volleyball, soccer, badminton, ping pong, football, rugby, rookie ball and tennis. Rookie ball was a new addition to our camp. It is a lot like baseball but with a twist. Working with the kids and teaching them how to play different sports has been such an amazing experience. You don’t only teach them but you get to learn from them as well. I remember one day we all had a intense but extremely fun game of basketball, the kids helped me to shoot better and I taught them different ways on being a defensive player, it goes with the quote “Each one, Teach one.” Everyday has been a day that the kids grow, I grow as a counselor and ultimately the camp grows from within. I feel fortunate that by being a leader and a role model I have the opportunity to change the lives of the campers. I have noticed a tremendous change in the kids from day one until now as we approach the end. The trips that we go on with the kids have been very successful. Every Friday we go swimming, every Thursday is rookie ball, and Wednesdays are barbeque days that we have at camp as well as trips all over Toronto including the Science Centre, ROM, Wild Water Kingdom and a picnic at Sunnybrook Park. We have guest speakers come out to talk to the kids, giving them life changing advice, stories and powerful motivational speeches to help the kids with their future and being better individuals. Overall my experience at this camp is hard to sum up in just a few words. It has been a journey, a wild ride, a once in a life time opportunity and a stepping stone allowing me to get closer to my future goals. This experience has helped me in many different ways as an individual and I thank everyone who has been involved. If it wasn’t for the kids I don’t think I would have been able to find myself and be the person I am today. They have changed my life for the better and it is a privilege to help them change theirs. I would not change this summer for anything for the world. If I am able to come back to be a Focus on Youth camp counselor I will take that opportunity in a heartbeat. To conclude, I leave this camp feeling good about our future.
-Kaliyah Malcolm Footsteps to Success Sports Camp, Blessed Mother Teresa