On June 5, 2017, Excellence, Encouragement, and Education (E-Camp) began with 20 participants ages 14 to 18 years old at Bienville Basin and concluded on July 14th with participants and their families along with Urban Strategies staff members present at the culminating activity. Participants were primarily Bienviile Basin residents and attend middle and high schools across the New Orleans area. In addition to Urban Strategies staff members, we had the addition of two interns to assist with E-Camp this summer, Zacchea Small (Berea College) and Cierra Chenier (Louisiana State University).
Throughout the duration of E-Camp youth participants engaged in weekly service learning projects, were immersed in computer coding with Operation Spark, received visits from speakers who represented numerous professions and interests, and toured local universities. Speakers included Edward Buckles (Filmmaker), Patrick Melon (Photographer), Malik Rahim (former Black Panther member and activist), and Keedy Black (local music artist and entrepreneur) among others. While service learning activities included volunteering at Unity Warehouse, assisting seniors at Lafon Nursing Home, and packing materials for Starting the Adventure in Reading (STAIR). Participants were also engaged in lessons from the Be The Dream Curriculum which encouraged them to visualize their dreams and to set goals to attain them. The curriculum also included thoughtful group discussions which aimed to build their confidence and pushed them to see how they are a part of the larger society. Some the 19 youth who
completed the program intend on enrolling in Operation Spark’s High School Program to further their computer coding skills that has the potential to lead them into computer coding careers. This was Urban Strategies’ fifth year of E-Camp programming and it was our second year onsite at Bienville Basin.