Hey guys, I know it’s been a while but I'm still getting use to this blogging thing. lol. I mean, I tried to keep a diary when I was younger but I kept forgetting to write in it or where I stashed it so I gave up on keeping one. But I promise from this forward I shall blog regularly, at the very least, one a week. So, now down to business.
The Oregon Teen Conference was last week from Monday to Thursday and FosterClub basically ran it. It was such an amazing experience and I will try my best to give you as much detail as possible so forgive me if a ramble a bit. First I would like to say that I never really knew just how work goes into putting on a conference. I’ve been to a few in my day, especially when I was in college but I have a new found respect for them and the people that are behind them. It is sooo much work but it really pays off in the end. We got to Western Oregon University, where the conference was being held, a day early so that we could prep for the next day.
Monday we were up early because it was the first day as well as check in. It was great to meet the youth during this time. We had a sort of assembly line going with tables for key check-in, activities and workshops sign-up. I was put on the snack bag table and as I tried not to sneak bags of chips I introduced myself to the youths as well as their Independent Living Program workers. We broke the youths into tribes with two All-Stars getting a tribe. Each tribe had to come up with a name and a shield of sorts, with all the positive things that they wanted everyone within their tribe to follow. My tribe was called the Incredibles and our shield was of a hot air balloon going up into the sky and on it was all the positives expectations that we wanted in our group. The weights being released from the balloon were of all the negatives that we didn’t want in our tribe. I absolutely LOVED my tribe, the name as well as the shield. The motto behind the shield was “The Sky is the Limit”. Amazing, right?
Tuesday started bright and early with breakfast and then workshops. I put on two workshops back to back, the first being Get a (Financial) Life which is all about financial literacy. I know, it a dry subject and for teenagers it is dryer but we really try to make it understandable and fun. We had a lot of interactive games and the youth in that workshop really got into it and shared some of their personal stories which were great.
Second workshop was Get Ed which was about, you guessed it, getting educated and going to college. Now, this topic is especially close to my heart. I believe that everyone should go to college but not everyone believes they can. I know this personally because I grew up in the South Bronx, an area where not everyone goes to college. Moreover, as a foster the odds were kind of against me as only 2 % of foster youth actually graduate from college. That’s why I really love this workshop; I want to make sure that all foster youths know that they CAN go to college and that there are soooo many resources out there for foster youths. In the evening there were a few more activities for the tribe and we also worked on the YouthSpeak which I will go into more detail in another post. Wednesday, was basically the same format, workshops in the morning, though I did not facilitate any on this day, and activities in the evening.
We also had an 80’s theme dance on Wednesday night which was a lot of fun.
Thursday all the YouthSpeak groups presented in the morning and then we did evaluations and gave out memory book and conference t-shirts. Then it was check-out time and hit the road! It was an amazing experience and I will go into more details about all the behind the scene action and my personal feelings about the conference. Stay tuned!