While nearly a dozen Kearny soon-to-be high school seniors headed to the Lyndsey Meyer Teen Institute last week for training to be peer advocates in their schools, it didn’t quite go as hoped. But that hardly means the teens didn’t get a lot out of their truncated time away.
The camp was scheduled for the entirety of last week (Aug. 20-Aug. 24) — it’s been in existence for 31 years now — but an illness broke out and the camp had to be shut down Wednesday, Aug. 22 … 2½ days ahead of schedule.
It was the first time the camp’s ever been cut short.
But according to Jane Mackesy, project coordinator of the Kearny Prevention Coalition which paid for the teens to go to the camp, and who served the camp as a chaperone, “In the 2½ days that we had together, we made great progress.”
“We went from a group where some of the kids knew one or two others, and some knew nobody, to a cohesive group of friends who were sharing contact information with each other, as soon as the closing of camp was announced,” Mackesy said. “By the end of the challenge course on Tuesday morning (Aug. 21), the Camp Mason staffers gave us tougher challenges because we were a ‘highly functioning group.’
“I am excited to see what this group of amazing young people can do. Although our time was cut short, they learned about how to begin the process of working together. On the challenge course, they improved their communication skills and discovered the importance of planning before they jump in to solve a problem. We are looking forward to working with this group of young leaders.”
Kearny Prevention Coalition Program Director Jack Corbett Sr., a retired Kearny Police Department Deputy Chief, says the camp was a great way to tie things together.
“LMTI (Lyndsey Meyer Teem Institute) was the culmination of our first year’s work at the Kearny Prevention Coalition,” Corbett said. “Although a virus shut down the camp early, this will not deter us in our efforts against substance abuse.”
Whilst there, the teens took part in a tightrope-walking exercise. Each took a turn walking “across a rope that we were holding,” Mackesy said.
The camp operates with youth advisory counselors — and several Kearny teens noted they were hoping to return, next summer, to serve as such counselors.
“We will be meeting with the students once we are sure that everyone is healthy to continue the planning process that we began at LMTI and to have a celebration which we missed due to the early return home,” Mackesy said.
The teens who took part in the camp were Kiara Santos, Gabriel Santos, Emmanuel Santos, Goncalo Pereira, Jalen Morales, Allie Pasquarelli, Ingrid Rivera, Renata Riva, Devin Perez and Breanna Munoz.
Several teens took time to discuss what they learned in their time away.
“I learned that a good leader will fail in order to be truly successful,” Breanna Munoz said. “There is no lesson learned without failure along the path to success.”
Ingrid Rivera echoed Munoz’s sentiments.
“Failing is the first step of success,” Munoz said. “If you fall, just look up and never give up.”
With those messages — the future looks bright for Kearny teens. And there should be no doubt that these messages will resonate during the school year — and the next time a teen is faced with the dilemma of whether to pick up a drug along the way.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.