On Saturday night, April 12th, the RISE members met at the Booker T. Washington Center in Chester for an Ice Cream Social from 6-9pm. It turned out to be an event that pushed many of the members past their comfort zone and also broke down some barriers. The kids really bonded as a result of the experience and are poised and ready to come to the May Retreat at Paradise Farm Camps for a weekend away.
The Social began with a congratulations for the kids who are doing well in the program, as the group started off as a group of 78 back in January and is now down to 65. The final RISE group will only consist of 40 Chester teens by the time RISE Camp comes around in July. The children were reminded that RISE stands for Responsibility, Integrity, Service and Excellence and the evaluators are constantly looking for students to display these character traits as well as enthusiasm and appreciation.
Scott Strickling spent a few minutes on cell phone etiquette and then Rick Kone, Camp Director at Paradise Farm Camps, explained the peculiar looking shoe boxes that were on a table on the side of the room. Every one of the small group leaders had created an Inside/Outside box and the kids had to figure out whose was whose. The outside of the box was decorated with images of what people see when they look at that person, but the inside of the box was decorated with who that person really is on the inside. The kids did really well identifying each small group leader’s box. All the kids took home blank shoe boxes and some magazines and will need to bring their completed shoe box to the Retreat. The theme for the May Retreat is Identity.
Next the large group of kids were divided randomly into 5 small group and each group was given a pre-set iPod and a small speaker system. Each iPod was loaded with a 3 song medley from one of 5 different decades (60s, 70s, 80s, 2000s, and 2010s). The groups went into different rooms with their small group leaders and had to come up with one person to do a solo, two to perform a duet and the rest of the group danced as a group to a third song in the medley.
Small group leaders were looking to see how each RISE member dealt with his or her discomfort, who took leadership roles, how conflicts were solved, who was encouraging, etc. After 30 minutes of practice, all 5 groups performed their dance/song in front of the other groups. It was amazing to see how much fun everyone had and how organized the groups became in just 30 minutes.
RISE capped off the night with ice cream sundaes for everyone. So many kids were really hesitant to participate but they persevered and overcame the obstacles and got a lot more comfortable with each other as a result.
Chester Housing Authority