Last school year as a seventh grader, Mya was nominated for the Crossroads C5 Leadership program. C5 is a summer and school year program that helps young leaders hone their leadership skills over the course of five years. It is a very competitive program. After applying, the candidates have a group interview with other applicants and current C5 upperclassmen before finishing the day with a one-on-one interview.
The interview committee looks for a particular type of student. When asked what she believes C5 saw in her, Mya replied, “I’m like, a very up person. I don’t have negativity in my life, I live positive. I laugh everyday. I just like helping people and being there for people. When I make friends, I like, cherish it. I do everything for my friends. I get kind of protective.”
Mya wasn’t a stranger to the Crossroads community. A couple of years ago, she attended Camp Wing, a different Crossroads camp that her mother heard about through a family friend. She enjoyed herself, but her homesickness led to her only attending for that one summer.
It seemed unlikely that Mya would willingly opt to attend another summer overnight camp until she was nominated for C5. “I was nominated by the principal, the old principal of this school,” she says with pride as she sits up straighter in her seat. She was nominated, her mother liked the program, and she got accepted, so she was willing to try she recalls with a shrug.
But making it through the 25 days of camp this summer was not as simple as that. It took Mya, a self-proclaimed shy person, time to adjust to the very intimate and intense environment. She expressed her desire to go home and her counselors were very patient with her as she worked through her feelings of homesickness.
One of her counselors recalls a moment when she was seriously considering leaving and after having a heart-to-heart with the counselor, she realized that she had been selected for a reason and decided to stay. Her counselor marks that moment as a turning point for Mya. She began making new friends and building a home with the C5 community.
For Mya, a different moment proved to be her most salient memory. Every evening, the students engaged in a discussion about a topic. These discussions, called Insight, were a challenge. Mya didn’t want to open up and share her thoughts with her peers. She worried that they might judge her.
But, after finding a safe space in Insight, she began participating. One night they had a very emotional discussion around bullying. She vividly recalled the night they discussed bullying. “Every single person in the cabin was in tears. But it wasn’t a bad thing!”
Making friends made all of the difference for Mya. She started to relax and enjoy the fun activities. She is looking forward to four more summers with the program and the person she will be when she graduates. “I think and I hope I can be a very caring helping person and like, fun. I don’t want to be boring and grow old. I want to have fun and be there for people.
Learn more about Match's work to enroll all of our students in high-quality summer programs at www.matchmore.org.