Youth Learn Soft Skills in the Workplace

Our Summer WorkWell Program is in full swing! Camp Skillz (a summer day camp) is one of the four areas our youth employees are working in this summer. Seven WorkWell employees are Junior Camp Counselors, each assisting a Lead Counselor with a group of campers throughout the week. They help set up and facilitate activities, lead group discussions, and provide extra supervision for the active young campers.  

Jr. Counselor Albert works with Lead Counselor Josh Nava to help their campers build their own trophies.

Jr. Counselor Albert works with Lead Counselor Josh Nava to help their campers build their own trophies.

In addition, Jr. Counselors attend weekly training sessions facilitated by WorkWell staff where they learn particular soft skills and how to apply them in the workplace. A few essential 21st-century soft skills youth are expected to have entering the workplace are taking initiative, self-direction, and the ability to resolve conflict respectfully with peers and managers. Last week, the Camp near-peer, Brianne Botzum, discussed with them how to be someone who can see what needs to be done and do it without needing direction.

Near-peer Brianne Botzum works with youth employee Mika Petty to prepare a group of campers at the start of their day. Jr. Counselors learn from the model set by their near-peer and other camp counselors as they work with campers throughout the week.

Near-peer Brianne Botzum works with youth employee Mika Petty to prepare a group of campers at the start of their day. Jr. Counselors learn from the model set by their near-peer and other camp counselors as they work with campers throughout the week.

Jr. Counselor Jonah Liley put his lesson on initiative into practice, earning himself last week’s WorkWell ‘Employee of the Week’ award! When campers at a campfire-building session were missing some of the required supplies, Jonah noticed and ran to get the supplies without being asked, and was back in time to start the activity. After losing a basketball game one morning, some of the campers were feeling discouraged. Jonah jumped in to talk with and encourage them, bringing smiles back to their faces. Later that day when it began to rain, Lead Counselor Derek Bargatze needed to step away to pack up some equipment. Jonah stepped in and began to facilitate what he’d seen modeled for him by Derek, circling up the campers to reflect on the value of the day. It was wonderful to witness such initiative in a young employee.

WorkWell employees Jonah Liley (L) and Albert Igbinigie (R) led Friday morning session for the campers. It was a hit!

WorkWell employees Jonah Liley (L) and Albert Igbinigie (R) led Friday morning session for the campers. It was a hit!

This week’s soft skills training session was on how to peacefully resolve conflict with peers and managers. They learned the importance of addressing issues as soon as possible (rather than letting them linger), and using language that communicates how they feel (rather than accusatory language) in order to find resolve.

Youth employee Zahkia Barnes enthusiastically said, “I was able to use what I learned to help two campers resolve conflict today!” Brianne highlighted Zahkia as an example for the rest of the employees as someone utilizing the skills they’re learning to create a peaceful environment for everyone to enjoy.

WorkWell Jr. Counselors exercise initiative in volunteering to lead end-of-day discussions with young campers, helping them reflect on lessons learned and encourage their peers. In these close-out sessions, Jr. Counselors talk about the character value of the week (such as Enthusiasm, Positivity or Cooperation) and how campers implemented these values during the day.  

WorkWell Jr. Counselors exercise initiative in volunteering to lead end-of-day discussions with young campers, helping them reflect on lessons learned and encourage their peers. In these close-out sessions, Jr. Counselors talk about the character value of the week (such as Enthusiasm, Positivity or Cooperation) and how campers implemented these values during the day.  

The individual investment each employee is receiving throughout the week from camp counselors, near-peers, and other experts is allowing them to grow as workers and also people. They are gaining skills for life. It’s one thing to learn about these skills of initiative, self-direction, and conflict resolution. It’s another thing to get to use them in the workplace the same day. WorkWell employees are doing both, and we’re already seeing the results: productive employees and happy campers!