Why Jatavian Loves The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club Summer Camp

A place to make a difference

When the summer first began, Jatavian, 14, was one of the new kids at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Houston – Aldine Westfield Branch. The facility offered a swimming pool, game, and tv rooms, basketball courts, numerous rooms for classes on art, music, and dance, and a chapel for Sunday morning church services.

Jatavian was nervous, but mostly excited because instead of sitting at home on the couch for the entire summer, he now had a safe place to spend the summer. Most of his friends and his siblings were far away on a different side of the city, where they were involved in sports. Jatavian wanted to be involved in something different, an activity where he could help make a difference in the lives of others. 

“I’m not from this area, so I walked in a bit shy because I didn’t know anyone,” explained Jatavian. “But after hearing about the opportunity to become a Junior Staff member, where I would be able to assist the adults with the younger kids, all of my shyness went out of the window. I wanted to help make a difference.”

Stepping up

By stepping up around the Club, helping camp staff with daily tasks, and assisting his peers with assignments, Jatavian was promoted to a Junior Staff member within a month. Now, he is well known around the Club for his dedication and passion for helping others.

“Our Junior Staff roles serve as an opportunity to help our older children feel more connected to the Club.  The kids gain valuable experience in leadership and peer mentoring,” said Erin Smith, unit director for the Aldine Westfield Boys & Girls Club. “Jatavian stood out to me because he took on tasks enthusiastically without being asked to do so, which let me know he would be perfect for this role.”

Friends forever

While being a Junior Staff member, Jatavian was also able to bond with other kids and form friendships that he will cherish forever.  

Jatavian is happy to walk away from camp this summer with new friends and experiences he will take with him into his first year of junior high this fall.

“I learned so much about being myself and working hard to achieve my goals this summer,” said Jatavian. “I am looking forward to taking what I learned and applying it in school this fall.”