Madison Sorel was a TI participant year 2012, and now 8 years as a volunteer and 6 month on staff below are some memories and experiences from their time with TI.
“Do you wanna go to camp this summer?” asked an older teammate. I thought, “yea, why not” imagining a week of laughing with new friends on a lake in NH. That happened, and much, much more. I could have never imagined the ripple effect the New Hampshire Teen Institute Leadership Program would have on my whole life. I found friends, community, mentors, and in the cheesiest way possible, I really found myself.
In the summer of 2012, I had just turned 15, and was finishing freshman year of high school. I knew I was someone that cared about a lot of things, as many teenagers do, but I felt insecure about my place in the world. I distinctly used the long red curly hair I had, to hide myself behind.
The Teen Institute is where I found a community of people who wanted to hear about what I cared about, what my ideas were, what I wanted to do. During the week, I listened to other peers’ experience, l learned about what community health looks like, I really thought about, and developed, my values, ideas, and voice. As I listened and learned, I gradually began to speak up. I could open up about what was bothering me, and what I could do about it. Now, almost 10 years later, I still attribute skills and values I learned that summer to how I am today. Teen Institute shows up in my work, in my relationships with friends and family, in my values of giving back to my community, and how I see and hold myself.
As an alumnus of the summer leadership program, I’ve gone back and volunteered with that community as a youth staff, intern, and now adult staff member. I return to camp to listen to the extraordinary young people that join the program, to help them develop their voice and values, and help foster their growth. Every participant’s journey is unique, and these unique leaders return to their communities making a difference on an immeasurable scale. I’m proud to be a member of an almost 40 year old organization that has this immeasurable impact, as it has had an immeasurable impact on my life.
On a final note, my participant year 2012, you can see me toward the front of the group photo, hair up front, and a year later, volunteering as a youth staff smiling with my full face.
If you know of a young person in your life that may be interested in joining the Teen Institute for their Summer Leadership Program Sunday, July 18th – Friday, July 23rd check out their website at https://www.nhteeninstitute.org/slp for more information.