Inside the small building that houses the Mt. Zion Christian Outreach Ministry, some big dreams are forming. The ministry located behind the campus of Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro has been home to the Youth Career Camp Inc. since 2006 and 11 “young adults” are beginning to map out their futures at the 2011 camp.
In its six years of existence, Mt. Zion Pastor Wayne Williams said the camp is focused on providing quality training in the professional world for teenagers.
By focusing on things such as conventional and web-based job applications, resume preparation, interview techniques, attire, college and technical school preparations, tuition assistance opportunities, improving interaction skills, and money management, the organization seeks to turn kids into responsible young adults and young adults into productive citizens, he said.
“We are a faith based program designed to help youngsters, eighth through twelfth graders, become productive citizens by preparing them for the work force and/or higher education,” Williams said. “We want to develop these kids into young adults. We are not raising children. We are raising adults.”
Williams said it is the ministry’s mission through the career camp to provide youth from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds with free, quality, professional training. All the programs are aimed at preparing them for the workforce and higher education by helping youth realize and set personal goals and make sound decisions for their future while reducing juvenile violence, crime and drop out rates.
“We want them to understand the importance of having a focus and the importance of their education so they understand that they are not just going to school to get a grade, or, just get a job, but we want them to learn the importance of a career and to be focused on that career. A job is not enough,” Williams said.
With the help of the Georgia Department of Labor’s Statesboro branch of the Office of Career Services, the camp highlights business and educational opportunities in and around Bulloch County. The group meets everyday for two weeks from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and travels to businesses to meet with professionals in various industries. By conducting regional and out of state field trips the organization introduces young adults to different kinds of professional careers, Williams said.
“How are you going to interact with the world?,” he said. “We want them to know how to get a job, and how to keep a job and create a career. Getting a job is one thing, but can you keep it? We want them to have the tools in their backpack to make it in life.”
Williams sees the organization as a way to prepare the young adults for the next step in their lives. He hopes that by “developing their focus” that the youth of the group will “change their minds and move away from narrow norms,” and begin mapping out a course for the future.
Preston Rivers, who is in a his second year at the career camp, said, “It [YCC] has helped me become more professional and more business oriented as well as teach me other life skills that I never learned growing up like learning to communicate with people better … the steps you need to take to get where you want and the amount of education and preparation you need to achieve it.”
Each year the camp culminates with a trip, and an awards and recognition banquet. For 2011, Youth Career campers were in Orlando Thursday for a tour of the Electronic Arts Tiburon facility, creators of EA Sports and other video games and a tour of Central Florida University. They wrap up the camp today with a trip to Disney World.