The T. Barnes Global Summer Camp, is a non profit organization founded in 2016, to help provide opportunity youth, aged 18-24, from the African Diaspora, a profound transformational summer experience steeped in African and African diaspora history, while preparing them with the necessary 21st Century skills to be successful in their future educational or career goals. Participants get the experience of being immersed in an atmosphere where Blackness is celebrated and normalized which not only gives students a sense of community, but allows them to see positive representations of themselves, something that is often missed in current society. T. Barnes Global Summer Camp had its first successful camp in 2017 and will replicate and deepen it’s impact in 2018.
One in eight young adults ages 16-24 are not in school or working meaning there are 5.3 million opportunity youth – also commonly referred to as disconnected youth – in the United States.
Measure of America, an independent research organization, calculated the disconnection rate for blacks, Latinos, and whites at the state level when data allowed. The black-white disparity was so stark that even in states where white youth are faring the worst, they are still doing better than US blacks on average, and even in states where blacks are faring the best, they are still not doing as well as US whites on average. The black youth disconnection rate is 18.9% as compared to 10.1% of white youth. The opportunity gap for black youth keeps widening making it more difficult to meet the challenges of the 21st century global economy.
There are a myriad of reasons that black youth are “disconnected,” including limited access to education and career opportunities and there are many trains of thought on how best to help “reconnect” youth. For example, some programs focus on character education—upholding values such as grit and perseverance—which can, alter a youth’s life trajectory and help him or her overcome the fate of disconnection. However, these lessons alone are not sufficient because disconnection is cyclical, it cannot be looked at in a vacuum. We believe that, considering and addressing the pervasive root issues—including systemic racism, residential segregation, and poverty—will make a difference in reducing youth disconnection. Specifically, to stop the cycle, students who are at risk of disconnecting must feel connected to society and create meaningful opportunities within them, by interacting with people who aren’t disenfranchised but empowered, for example, and finding a way to meaningfully engage in the economy.
To that end, the T. Barnes Global Summer Camp, has a multifaceted approach to addressing the opportunity youth crisis among black youth. T. Barnes Global Summer Camp focuses on building the important non cognitive and/ or Social and Emotional Core Competencies including critical thinking, decision making and social awareness through examining the historical context and learnings from people in the African Diaspora. It also offers participants the opportunity to connect to and be a party of empowered communities in the African diaspora and gives the participants the opportunity to engage in hands on training in agri-entrepreneurship.
The T. Barnes Global Summer Camp takes place in Anguilla. Ninety percent of Anguilla’s population, government officials and business owners are of African descent providing a community for students to see themselves reflected in at all levels.
Participant Selection + Training
10 Opportunity Youth, aged 18-24, that identify as racially/ethnically from the African Diaspora are chosen each year to take part in the T. Barnes Global Summer Camp. Applications for the program will be released on October 31, 2017. Applicants are asked to explain why they are interested in the program as well as provide other demographic and educational interest information. Applications are reviewed by the T. Barnes Global Summer Camp Staff and applicants are invited to take part in an in person or virtual interview to make sure that all applicants understand the requirements of the program and to make sure that the program is a good fit for their needs. Applicants are then notified of their acceptance into the program no later than January 1, 2018.
Prior to attending the camp participants are required to take part in three training/orientation webinars preparing them for travel. They are given the history of Anguilla and local customs, the outline and expectations of the program and also other trainings to prepare them for the immersive experience.
The Camp will run for 14 Days (2 full weeks), July 8-22, 2018. Participants reside in a small boutique hotel owned by local entrepreneur. The days of the summer camp are split into two sections, the first half of the day focuses on the Global Awareness and History Workshops and the second half on the day is focused on hands-on agri-entrepreneurship experiences. The workshops explore the history of Anguilla, the intersections/interactions between U.S. and the African Diaspora at large and other topics focused on social justice and awareness. The evidence based curriculum ask participants are asked to read and respond to academic texts and engage in Socratic and group style discussion, as well as debate activities, honing their critical thinking skills. Participants also are provided with journals and asked to reflect daily on their experiences.
The second half of the day, participants will work daily at Sensational Flavors Farm and Market, an organic farmer, owned and operated by independent farmer, Salih Abdur Raheem. At the farm participants will learn about agriculture and the intricacies of planting seasonal fruit and vegetables in an organic and sustainable way. The participants will also help run the market store, getting hands-on experience of the entire agri-entrepreneurship process from growing to selling and beyond. In addition, during this time the participants will also be paired with the farm’s summer youth volunteers, which will provide the students an opportunity to connect with local Anguillan youth for an intergenerational peer mentoring experience.
Finally, the program also includes other enrichment activities such as trips to local museums, Caribbean music and dance classes, and attending local cultural events. These enrichment activities provide a well roundedness to the program that is necessary to keep participants engaged and to provides them with experiences that they can add to their cultural capital attaché.
A sample schedule is below:
7:00 am – Wake up Call
8:00 am – Breakfast and Community Building at the hotel
9:00 am – Global Awareness Workshop led by TaNesha Barnes
11:00am – History Workshop
12:00pm – Lunch
1:00pm – Depart to Sensational Flavors
1:30-5:30– Fundamentals of farming talk/Grow Tour/ Planting Basics
5:30pm– Depart for Hotel
6:00-7:00pm – Break
8:00pm – Daily Reflection (Meet by the pool, summer reading and recap the day.)
9:00pm– Lights Out
The T. Barnes Global Summer Camp, is spearheaded by Camp Director Monica Marie Jones. Monica, has over 10 years in the youth development space, serving as national Trainer and Field Consultant for the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality and Lead Trainer and Quality Coach for The Youth Development Resource Center in Detroit. The staff includes 3 additional facilitators and trainer all with significant experience in both youth development and youth service learning in an international spaces. In addition, all staff participate in a rigorous training retreat prior to the beginning of camp receiving additional training on topics like “Creating restorative spaces for youth” and “Responsive Trauma Informed Programming.”
The goal of T. Barnes Global Summer Camp is to provide 10 Opportunity Youth with a transformational and grounding experience that will equip them with the tools necessary to “reconnect” and reinvest in their communities and themselves.
T. Barnes Global Summer Camp collects and measures its progress by examining both qualitative and quantitative data collected during and after the camp.
All campers are required to take a pre and post camp assessment that measures their Social and Emotional Development. The assessment uses evidence driven and vetted scales, such as the Duckworth scale, to measure the growth of the participants in the four core SEL competencies outlined by The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
In the addition to this, participants also take a pre and post survey to find their baseline knowledge across a variety of topics including African Diaspora History and Business Topics.
T. Barnes Global summer camp believes that participants will show growth not only in their Social and Emotional Learning Development but also in increase in factual knowledge in topics such as African Diaspora History and Entrepreneurship.
Cost and Budget
The total cost for the summer camp is $95,010.60. Funding for the camp is provided by T. Barnes, LLC, private grants/donations, and social media fundraising campaigns.
Each participant is required to pay/raise a participant fee of $500.