What I Learned as a Latinx Youth Leadership Camp Facilitator

By: Tania Cruz-Sanchez, Casa - Pueblito Education Assistant, Summer 2016

It has been an awesome experience being one of Casa - Pueblito’s Education Assistants this summer. The role consisted of designing, planning, promoting, implementing and monitoring a leadership day camp for Latinx youth. The Leadership Camp had a variety of interactive and engaging activities; from trust-building ice-breakers to exploring themes of power and oppression through mini skits and discussions, all provided by our dynamic interns and education assistants. The best part of being part of this camp, was perceiving a sense of growth from the youth participants and the meaningful connections that were made between participant members, facilitators and guest speakers. 

The group during a brainstorming session 

The group during a brainstorming session 

 We had the pleasure to collaborate with guest workshop facilitators such as: Nylda Gallardo Lopez a.k.a Lady Noyz who gave an introductory Hip-Hop lesson with fresh insights on Hip-Hop’s Latin-American history as a cultural and art expression that encourages creative search for identity and community building. Sick Muse Arts Projects co-founder, Paola Gomez,  provided us a workshop on self-care, collaborative work, and creativity in the context of respecting and embracing each other’s uniqueness. Followed by Silvana Bazet from the Latin American Queer Education Project who introduced concepts and themes of LGBTQ+ responding to all questions posed by participants. The Mexican performer, choreographer and instructor Norma Araiza facilitated a unique workshop on Expressive Arts tailored to leadership and how to take action. Lastly, Spoken Word artist SPIN provided the youth a special workshop encouraging self-expression as a means of sociopolitical consciousness, community building through poetry, artistic creativity and exploring our many identities. 

Hip-Hop Workshop facilitated by Lady Noyz

Hip-Hop Workshop facilitated by Lady Noyz

Youth and facilitators heading back to Toronto after a day at the beach

Youth and facilitators heading back to Toronto after a day at the beach

One main component of my learning experience as a camp facilitator was the re-learning of teamwork and how imperative communication skills are. If it were not for the persistent exchange of ideas and active communication among the interns, education assistants, guest workshop facilitators, program manager, other resourceful individuals along the way and of course the youth participants, the camp would not have been as prosperous as it turned out. For example, many challenges arose from Day 1, the main ones being: the space was significantly small to provide other workshops for the following days and the youth were not as engaged as we hoped. Once the camp day was over and the youth were sent home, the team settled down for a debrief. As we exchanged ideas: we finalized a breakfast plan, modified activities to be more interactive and team building, and after negotiating with the co-ordinator of the space we were able to acquire a bigger space without affecting our budget. 

One very interesting aspect that merits mentioning was how the Digital Stories Project was incorporated into the Leadership Camp. As a brief workshop on exploring the experience of Latinx youth in Toronto, many of the youth participants new to this initiative appreciated the sharing of the digital stories and a few even showed interest in participating in future projects Casa - Pueblito has to offer. This goes to show how inclusive leadership workshops and initiatives, such as the Digital Stories Project and Leadership Camp, are of great value for many of our youth today. 

Youth and facilitators at the end of a productive day at camp!

Youth and facilitators at the end of a productive day at camp!

As a result, being a part of the Leadership Camp this summer 2016 has been a fruitful and rewarding experience. Thank you Casa - Pueblito! 


Tania Cruz-Sanchez is an Hispanic & French studies graduate from Glendon Campus, York University. In September, Tania officially kick started her OCT career at York’s Faculty of Education in their 2-year consecutive B.Ed program.