Throughout my high school years, there has always been one event keeping me going through the homework, tests and stressful student life: Leadership Camp. It all started in secondary one, when I was a shy, self-conscious kid with big ideas and a passion for leadership. I was asked to attend Camp Val, and I was extremely excited and nervous to go. My first night at camp, I cried because I was afraid of my new surroundings and I wanted nothing more than to get home to my family. I toughed it out, and to this day I am so incredibly glad that I did.

By the end of my first trip to camp, I was a changed person. In just three days, I had learned how to communicate easier, how to converse with new people, and how to deal with and face my insecurities. I looked up to my animators and organizers tremendously. There was no doubt in my mind that I had found a safe space and knew I’d be returning to camp for the following years.

After three years of going to camp, it was amazing for me to look back at pictures and mementos from my first year at camp and compare them to where I was at that moment. It made me so proud to see how much I had bettered myself with the help of my fellow delegates, animators, organizers and the entire camp experience as a whole.

At last, secondary four came and my advisor chose to send my best friend Sarah and I to camp as organizers! I was so excited to experience this opportunity that I cried tears of joy when he told us. I spent four months and four hectic days organizing and running camp with people I now consider my organizer family. I have come out of this camp year with new skills, more friends than ever before, and a whole lot of confidence in myself.

Twelve year old Liana in secondary one could have only dreamed of being one of the big kids up on stage, chanting and running camp for two hundred people. Being a delegate for three years and organizing this year at camp has impacted me in the best ways possible. I am forever grateful to my Leadership Camp family, to my advisors and to C-J Turner who organizes the camp with us for giving me the opportunity to make camp possible for the delegates and for everyone else who was lucky enough to attend.

The EMSB Leadership Camps have improved me and have ultimately changed my life. I am beyond excited to organize for my fifth and final year in 2018, and I can’t wait to see how amazing and transformative this camp will be for all delegates as it was for me!

Liana Trasente is a Secondary 5 student at Laurier Macdonald High School in the English Montreal School Board, she was an organizer of the 2017 EMSB Leadership Camp.

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