Camp Anytown transforms one person at a time

Camp Anytown is a three day get-a-way for Las Vegas high school students to learn leadership development skills while escaping the hustle and bustle of the city.
Photo Credit: Bree Eure

For students interested in detaching themselves from the hectic city life, Camp Anytown is the place to go. Camp Anytown is an intensive three-day experience that takes place twice a year in Las Vegas-once in the fall and once in the spring.

The program was open to all local high school students with a focus on ensuring diversity, inclusivity and varying levels of leadership development. The campers, referred to as delegates, were transported to the camp facility at Camp Lee Canyon on Friday morning, and returned home Sunday evening.

“Camp Anytown’s core objective is to not change or brainwash people into learning a certain belief, but to help young people experience the benefits of love and respect instead of the loss from hate and prejudice, “ camp director Stacy Sutton said.

During camp, participants are expected to reflect on the diversity of Las Vegas in order to learn and grow from their experiences in meeting different people.  By separating participants from their usual environment, the camp provides a direct exposure to the many differences each person has, and offers them opportunities to work together to encourage greater acceptance through a better understanding of people’s beliefs, traditions, and behaviors.

“This was my first year as an advisor at Camp Anytown, and I will be back for many camps to come. The most amazing experience was watching the delegates transform into a state of awareness that I would bet will be with them the rest of their lives, “ camp counselor and past delegate Catherine Rodriguez said.

Camp Anytown aims to provide an environment in which education, dialogue, and interaction among the delegates results in increased self-esteem, mutual respect, understanding and acceptance of various cultures, ethnic groups, faith/religions, and genders.

“Camp Anytown makes you feel right at home. It gives you a family connection that you just don’t feel with the outside world,“ camp advisor Rico Ocampo said.

Camp Anytown is a nationally recognized, award winning, 50 year-old training program for the youth in leadership skills, human relations, and diversity. Campers learn about prejudice and discrimination in society, and develop their leadership skills, which are vital in the conduct of a multicultural democracy.

“Camp Anytown sounds like fun! It also sounds like you learn more about yourself along with other people,” sophomore Mariah Holmes said.

To ensure equal opportunity for all local youth in the Las Vegas area, Camp Anytown offers a free program that local teenagers can attend, thanks to multiple contributors and fundraisers. Throughout Clark County, each camp serves 60 teenagers who must be referred by their school counselor, teachers, a community agency, or by independently applying here.

“We all had differences, but we were able to bond as one,” a spring 2012 delegate said.

After attending Camp Anytown, one will come back with an increased understanding of the negative effects of prejudice and discrimination, improved sense of identity and self-worth, increased relationship building skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. Campers will also have a better idea of conflict resolution and violence prevention skills with strategies for creating a positive change in the Las Vegas community.