Why did you start the Campference program?
The power of a positive community on the mindset of a teen or young adult is incredible. I have watched as young people have led other young people through some profoundly difficult questions based on their own experience with that same situation. What Next Step does is simply create an atmosphere where in young people are valued and best practices are shared and the energy is positive and then get out of the way. I know I said “simply”, but this model is actually the result of many really smart people working very intentionally for the last two decades and learning from our failures. Leveraging the collective knowledge of the Next Step young people was and is the goal of every Campference community and is not only the frosting, but the whole freakin cake!!
Why is Campference so unique?
For many of the Next Step young people this community is the 1st place that they have been able to have REAL conversations about their unique experiences. Not only as it pertains to their diagnoses but also around school, work, dating, warcraft or whatever. What makes it unique is that they don’t have to worry about explaining how their diagnoses impacts these conversations because everyone is in the same boat. They can be free to talk about it or not talk about it, lead or listen, or just simply be in the room. That freedom is one of the primary unique features of Next Step.
Why are Campferences so critical to a seriously ill young person’s life?
Everyone deserves a space to be comfortable enough to explore who they want to be. A community of peers that is supportive, positive, and “gets it” provides that space. For some, this can be the launch pad that allows them to really consider their future path after having heard from peers that have “been there”.
Next Step’s 2019 Summer Campferences are being hosted at the Warren Conference Center & Inn, in Ashland, MA.