It was early on a Saturday morning walking up to Sturm Hall at the University of Denver, and you could feel the excitement in the air as teens from across Metro Denver arrived for Colorado Young Leaders (CYL) Base Camp CommUnity, a youth leadership forum created by teens for teens. The day started off with a warm welcome from the members of the CYL Youth Advisory Board, an enthusiastic group of 13 teens who spent the past year planning, preparing, and orchestrating the event focused on developing community, building cause awareness with local nonprofits, and empowering high school teens to lead through action.
The day kicked off with three local nonprofit founders sharing leadership inspiration and insights with the 60 students in attendance.
“What would you be if you were 10 times bolder?”
Nicole Mahobian founded CYL just over five years ago with the mission to develop a new generation of compassionate leaders; she was the first to speak. Through her heart inspired speech, she conveyed her personal truths of leadership starting with the idea that what makes you unique is what makes you a leader – therefore truth #1 don’t be a replicate. Building on the philosophy of CYL, she encouraged teens to explore their unique passion and voice in order to become the leaders they were born to be.
“In order to coach and develop people you need to learn it first!”
Lady Trailblazers founder, Carletta Stewart, was the second inspirational speaker of the day. She shared how her military experience shaped her leadership style and conveyed that the very first step of leadership is to learn how to empower those around you. With this as her motivation, she launched her nonprofit to help girls 14 to 17 become resilient leaders.
“If there is going to be meaningful change in this world, it’s going to depend on your generation.”
Dave Ventimiglia, the founder of The Tipi Raisers, was the last keynote speaker. With passionate urgency he spoke directly to the hearts of the room and stated that if you want to make a difference, it won’t be easy, it won’t always be welcomed, but it is desperately needed. He encouraged the audience to own their vision, discover their passion, and to think outside of the box in order to find their true purpose.
Brimming with optimism about their unique ability to lead in their communities, teens then engaged in breakout sessions to hear about the work being done by three local nonprofits. They explored environmental stewardship with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, learned about Native American culture and equity through The Tipi Raisers, and were empowered to become advocates for inclusion with Rainbow Alley. The sessions opened their minds to new ways to use their talent and passion to create meaningful change.
Hungry for more (literally) they filled up on lunch donated by Einstein’s Bagels and MAD Greens and built unity through fun teambuilding exercises. Eager to put their leadership into action, teens finished the day by participating in a service project designed and facilitated by Metro Caring, a nonprofit working to sustainably address the root cause of hunger. The objective: to build planting kits for urban youth to learn about food sources and healthy nutrition. By writing recipe cards, counting seeds, and filling soil bags, the participants took the challenge head on and were able to create 122 kits in a little over an hour!
Colorado Young Leaders Youth Advisory Board finished out the day and sent the now community driven leaders out into the world with an inspiring speech:
“I know as teenagers, service can be quite intimidating and a daunting task. From the pressures in school, your extracurriculars, and your social life, we can all relate to how hard it is for us to donate our time. But volunteering can feel a little less mandatory when you are truly passionate about what you serve. Whether it’s being environmentally conscious with VOC or helping Metro Caring with packaging seed kits, finding your passion is the foundation for cultivating a love for your service. We hope that Base Camp helped you along your journey to ignite these passions!” – Sophia B., YAB Secretary
This event was hosted by Colorado Young Leaders, a nonprofit with a mission to develop young people’s leadership skills through a dynamic leadership process; to inspire a sense of adventure through meaningful service-learning opportunities, and to create a community for young people to live out their discovered skills and passions. It was made possible through a sponsorship from Dietmeier Orthodontics. To learn more about Colorado Young Leaders visit coloradoyoungleaders.org