The Star-Herald

Stew night raises funds for County teen leadership camp

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — On Friday evening, the Presque Isle Snowmobile Club quickly filled with friends both old and new from the Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp, all of whom were eager to enjoy a meal of stew and grilled cheese and contribute to a program that has special meaning for everyone.

The Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp is a nonprofit organization that focuses on teaching teenagers about drug prevention and leadership skills while giving them the knowledge to live healthy lifestyles. Program Coordinator Amber Stedt said that the staff hosts many fundraisers throughout the year to cover operational costs for their five-day residential summer camp and yearlong programming.

“In today’s society, with drug use on the rise, I think a lot of teens feel forced to act more grown up before they’re ready. Our camp offers them a place where they can be themselves and have fun together,” Stedt said.

During the summer camp, students in sixth to eighth grade attend workshops on teen issues such as drug use and peer pressure; participate in team-building activities and evening social groups; and host motivational speakers from throughout the country. This year’s camp will be held at the University of Maine at Fort Kent from July 22-26. Registration forms are available in area schools and online at http://atlc-camp.org/ from Feb. 12 to April 5.

Throughout the year, ATLC hosts regular outings such as roller skating, corn mazes, tie dye picnics, laser tag, disk golf and a daylong version of the summer camp that takes place every fall. Although teens can only attend the summer camp once, many participants have continued to be involved in the organization’s four planning committees, advisory board, fundraisers and group outings.

Quinn White, now a high school freshman, attended ATLC’s summer camp as a seventh-grader in 2016 is now a member of the advisory board and a planning committee co-chair.

“Everyone treats you like family and makes you feel welcome,” White said, about the summer camp. “They don’t just teach you to say ‘No’ to drugs, but also give you strategies to stay upbeat throughout high school and not become too stressed. I’m glad I went when I did because the camp helped me with the transition into high school.”

High school junior Karoline Dillenbeck participated in the summer camp in 2014 when she was 13 and has been part of the camp’s student staff for four years. At the stew night, she sold $10 raffle tickets for a Fitbit activity tracker or Apple iPad and ATLC T-shirts for $15. All proceeds benefited ATLC programs.

Dillenbeck credits the ATLC camp with helping her become a positive role model for younger campers and giving them the tools to make smart choices no matter what situation they’re faced with.

“The camp has helped me get through so many of the highs and lows of high school and now I want to give back to other teens,” Dillenbeck said. “Being part of ATLC teaches you to always be positive no matter what happens.”

2018 will be the 32nd consecutive year that ATLC, which began in 1987, will host a summer residential camp. For students who live in or south of Mars Hill, a bus will be available for transportation to and from the UMFK campus. Those who would like more information can contact Stedt at 498-6431 or astedt@amhc.org.  

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