Frameworks of Tampa Bay held its yearly retreat for Teens In Action in mid-August to kick off a great start to the ten-month program. Teens In Action is a coed, social-emotional learning and civic engagement leadership program for high school students. The skills and concepts acquired through this program will benefit these teens in all aspects of their lives as they grow older.
“I was nervous as to how this year’s retreat would go because of the great success of Class 1’s retreat last year. We have high expectations,” said Dan Ribas, Teens In Action Program Manager.
Objectives of the retreat included learning to build a culture of respect and teamwork among the Teens In Action members and to learn the program requirements. Other objectives included learning about the concepts and skills of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), its benefits, and how to apply SEL to all areas of their lives. Learning how to implement SEL concepts in the community will be necessary through this year’s upcoming civic engagement opportunities the teens will complete.
On the first day of the retreat, the group of forty strangers piled into a bus unaware of what the next two days had in store for them. The overnight retreat was held at Day Springs Conference Center.
Ribas planned the first day for icebreakers and time for getting the group acquainted with one another. “They are going to be tired, we will be having long days filled with tons of activities. These kids will be going from 7AM to midnight for two days… It’ll be exhausting, but well worth it,” said Ribas.
Saturday was dedicated to hands on ropes courses that challenged the teenagers to soar to new heights-literally. Filled with fear and determination, participants climbed up a twenty-five-foot telephone pole and jumped, depending on their peers to pulley them for a successful and safe landing.
“The ropes courses really challenged me to depend on others. I feel as if I’ve known these incredible people I met yesterday forever,” said Annie Polo, junior at the Academy of the Holy Names.
Saturday night was the emotional part of the retreat. Teens partook in activities such as “Cross the line if…” and “If you really knew me then you would know…” that challenged their vulnerability. The night ended in hugs, meditation, and reflection on the days’ whirlwind of emotions.
“My favorite part of the retreat was ‘If you really knew me.’ I said a lot of things I normally wouldn’t to a group of strangers but I feel that it will only bring us closer together to make a great impact on the community this year,” said Cristina Gomez, senior at the Academy of the Holy Names.
Sunday was a day of reflection and tears as kids barreled into the bus, sad that such an incredible weekend was over, but ecstatic that such a fabulous year was ahead.
The second year of Teens In Action seems promising and devoted to making lasting impacts on the community through the civic engagement planned throughout the year. There is no doubt this non-profit organization will continue to do great things for Tampa Bay.