GREENFIELD — When Yasmin Solis arrived at Camp Royal in the picturesque Sierras near Fresno in early June, she was nervous and excited, more nervous than excited.
Solis, a student at Greenfield High School, was one of 110 young ladies, all juniors from dozens of high schools around Central California and the Central Coast, to attend the camp this year.
As she stepped off the bus that morning, after the two-hour drive from Salinas into the mountains, Yasmin looked around to see if she knew anybody. She looked left then right but didn’t recognize anyone. She had no cell phone, no internet and no Facebook (rules of the camp included no communication devices). It was a new experience for her.
She was at the camp for six days. It seemed like a long time for someone who didn’t leave home often. Yasmin was selected to attend the summer leadership camp because of her excellent academics and her potential as a leader. She was at the camp to learn how to become an effective leader.
As the last of the girls stepped off the bus and others gathered in a circle, some girls stretched their legs and arms after the long ride. They unloaded their bags and backpacks, reviewed schedules and cabin assignments. That’s when Yasmin realized she was in for a challenge, still nervous but building some confidence.
The anxiety didn’t last long. Yasmin is not your ordinary young lady. And, Camp Royal is not your ordinary summer camp. It didn’t take long for Yasmin to open up and begin meeting dozens of girls from all around the area during the first day.
The 110 girls shared many things in common, mainly the fact that they were all excellent students and leaders at their respective high schools. The girls were at camp to learn from each other. With some effort and good luck they would leave the six-day camp as effective, better leaders.
The camp’s three goals were clear. First, learn to take responsibility for yourself and the outcomes of your decisions. Second, learn to collaborate in teams and accomplish tasks that could not be done alone. Third, experience the process of inspiring a large group to achieve a common goal. Students learned skills that would serve them well going into their senior year. The lessons learned at camp could be applied to the real world and applied in their high school.
One key idea that Camp Royal taught Yasmin was that other people’s ideas, even though very different than your own, could be equally valid or even better; it’s important to come to the realization of how much more can be accomplished by working together toward common goals.
Fast forward six days. The buses arrived at camp to pick up the girls and return them to their communities. As she stepped onto the bus, Yasmin almost forgot about how nervous she was when she arrived. Over six days, she made some special friends at the camp, friends she still communicates with on a regular basis. She recalled how she initially felt alone and wished there were other students attending from Greenfield High. That was on the first day. On the last day, she was happy to have attended alone because that experience of being “on your own” and making the best of an opportunity, like Camp Royal, was exactly what she needed.
Each year the Greenfield Rotary Club selects two high school juniors to attend the Camp Royal summer leadership camp. Anyone interested in attending should contact Principal Frank Lynch.