First I want to thank God for allowing me to be here, my parents for being the pack leaders of my support system, Mrs. Eileen for being a fabulous mentor, Mrs. Jaki Scott and the Scott’s Pharmacy family for fueling my career choice, and last but no where near least, Mrs. Kesia and the eminent Next Level staff and volunteers.
Unlike a lot of the other graduates, Camp Zion 2009 was when my endeavor, my legacy, my story here began. I had just finished being the “new kid” at Porter Elementary and I was already the “new kid” once again. I only knew a handful of people since I had just moved to this side of town so I was intimidated when I saw everyone talking to each other like it was nothing.
Seven years later, here I am. Speaking amongst faces that are both old and new.
Next Level has done a plethora of things and has also been a few very important things for me. Let’s start with the first word, next, which means following, succeeding, or upcoming. For me, the beginning has Nurtured me to Empower others in order for us to become eXtraordinary men and women of Tomorrow
My name is Robyn Williams and I started attending Camp Zion 6 years ago. During this time, I was very quiet and shy and thought that would hold me back from making friends. That mindset changed quickly after going through my first day of camp. The kids and staff made it easy for me to feel welcome and come out my shell. The first day was filled with endless fun from the delicious breakfast and educational classes to the even better dinner and free time in the gym. I could not wait to go back the next day.
My name is Bobby Richardson and I am a 2016 graduate from Rutland High School. First off, I would like to thank God for letting me see another day, being able to enjoy this moment with my family and friends, and most of all I thank God for being the king above all! When I first started Camp Zion, I was this short, big head kid who always wanted to play basketball with the big boys and loved to play the drums.
Hi my name is Xylia Hollis. I am a 2016 graduate from Rutland High School. My camp experience has been amazing! I’ve met a lot of new people here. I’ve also made friends I never thought I would meet. My first thought when I started camp was, “I don’t think I’m going to like it” and “I’m ready to go home already”; but, I’ve grown to like it. I really enjoyed both the Afterschool program and camp. I am going to miss it here.
Next Level Community Development Center – Not just words or a title, but a true description of a program that not only excels you academically and through work ethics, but also through morals and values.
I’ve learned so much – from writing checks to managing money, running our own virtual businesses, and now giving back to charities and ourselves through savings. Math was always my strongest subject and I believe if I had stopped for one summer I would have lost that passion for it.
My first few jobs were quite interesting. I started at a church, then on to a law firm, next a museum, and finally a Scott’s pharmacy. The program definitely did its job. Helped me find where I didn’t want to be but also helped me in finding where I truly wanted to be. I’ll be attending Kennesaw State University in the fall to major in biochemistry and to eventually pursue a career in pharmaceuticals. From the college tours to the abstinence classes, Job club has excelled more and more each year and I hope to come back and see it grow even more.
I have learned that regardless of my friends, I should not be ashamed or afraid to stand up for who I am or what I believe in. You see, I AM a strong, educated black man and I am not afraid or ashamed to say that or to be that. It is my promise to you that I will never forget that nor will I run away from it. I will embrace it and I will live up to the expectations of success that you have instilled in me to show.
My experiences at Camp Zion have left me with one final emotion; the last sentiment I will share with you today is hope. I hope that I will use the tools that Camp Zion has given me as a means to provide opportunities to others, not out of a sense of duty, but out of a sense of expectation to give to other people what you have given to me. I will give my confidence, my strength, and my swaggerness to those that I am in the presence of.
In all seriousness though, I’ve been exposed to more than most people my age. Things that I will value and take with me when I am up in age. With all that we were shown, I was able to make a career choice. Because of how much I’ve grown, I have been able to find my voice. I haven’t always been a person to step out of my shell. But Camp Zion has set me a cut above the rest, and lead me to excel. Had I not been involved, I could have been hanging in the streets. Involved in wrong relations and participating in wrong activities.
CAMP ZION! I have been a part of this wonderful program since it began. I was only six year old. From the time I started elementary school to now as a 2012 high school graduate, Camp Zion has always been a part of my life. Here I always had fun, met new people, learned social skills, learned new math and English skills and read at least 2 books. I couldn’t think of a better place I wanted to be every day after school and during summer. This was a place to learn, be encouraged, and also be prepared for the real world.
Throughout the summer we would do many activities, from education enhancements to sports clinics, day trips to overnight college trips. We would also do community service projects and give back to the community that has continued to give to us as we’ve been taught during our Camp Zion experience. My parents could never have afforded to send me to a program like this and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I am now ready for college at Albany State because of the academic and social preparation I’ve received at Camp Zion.
As a teacher at Next Level I have enjoyed not only teaching, but learning from the students. I learned how much my students were capable of handling when given the opportunity to plan a party at Next Level. They rose to the occasion and succeeded beautifully. I was very proud of them. I have also had the great opportunity to watch many of the students reach their academic and personal goals through this program.
As an employee I enjoyed being a part of a team that supports one another and works together to make sure the students get all that they need. Whenever I had an idea or needed materials for an activity, I always received the help and support I needed to make it happen. There is one thing for sure while being a teacher and an employee at Next Level, is that I always felt a part of a family.
Mrs. Joy, Teacher at NLCDC
I am appreciative of the support I have received from the parents and grandparents of the students in my classes. You were always there to give me the help I needed to facilitate learning and appropriate behavior. The children always knew that we were a team and that was an important lesson for them…
It takes a group of very special people dedicated and committed to their jobs on a daily basis to make Next Level successful. And the pearls of laughter I would hear resounding from the classrooms and hallways reflected the vibrant and happy people we are fortunate to serve.
Brenda C.,Teacher at NLCDC