Growing up you always hear the phrase, “The world works in mysterious ways.” I saw the truth of this saying when I attended the Boys & Men of Color (BMoC) Summer Enrichment Camp. For many years I’ve battled a negative mindset. My motivating experience at the BMoC camp changed my mindset completely from what it was when I arrived.

As I sat foot on camp grounds, I felt a chill of fright, worrying how I would do at the camp given my history of PSTD and blackouts. I was frightened not only by being at an all-male camp, but I was also frightened by my own memories of bad experiences. The fright was so bad I felt disoriented. Even though I mingled and shared names as if I were comfortable, my mind repeatedly played over the images of my abuse and how this destroyed my trust of males.

I fought the distance and tried to begin a process of building relationships the first day, but I had a setback when I saw a conflict between two guys from different cities. They fought verbally, and it almost became physical. These challenges turned around on Tuesday night. We had a teambuilding activity where we all crossed a physical line on the ground and shared our struggles. Hearing the struggles of others opened my mind and made me want to share my own story, but because the story of my abuse is so painful and personal, hearing their stories wasn’t enough for me to trust the group enough to share. I felt conflicted and distanced because they trusted the group with their stories, but I still wasn’t able to share mine.

As I heard story after story, I got the strength and trust I needed to stand up and share a piece of my pain. Even though I didn’t want to share, somehow my legs pushed me to stand up. Just giving them a small picture of what I experienced took me back to the day of my abuse. I broke down and couldn’t face it, so I walked outside for a breather. Out of support, a group of campers followed me out and embraced me with love, comfort and encouragement. This made me break down even more. In that moment, I felt something I’ve spent my life looking for. It felt good, but at the same time I was so scared, because now this whole group knew everything that had happened to me. I felt like my eyes were opened, and the thick frost that blurred them had melted off.

Ever since that moment down to the last days of the camp, I felt for the first time wanted and cared for. It gave me encouragement to build relationships and become close with the other campers and staff. From that turning point on Tuesday, I had the best time of my life. The fun, outdoor courses and new relationships made this camp the best experience of my life and will go down as a memory close to my heart.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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