The Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute is a place where you can find a community while helping your community. You can start attending the summer camp in middle school. As a middle school participant you get to have fun while learning about substance use prevention and how to become a better leader in your community. That first year is a year like no other. Everything is new. It's like stepping to a whole new world with so many possibilities. It can feel weird at first, everyone cheering and dancing while you are just a shy middle schooler, trust me I know. That foreign experience is beneficial, especially at that age. Feeling safe to be your authentic self in an environment makes it easier to make friends and learn things. That first year for me I started to figure out who I was by discovering what I wanted to do. At the age of 12, your world is a lot smaller and time passes differently. In middle school making an action plan of what to do at school feels like a set plan for the future. At least that's how it felt for me. I saw the ability to do something that gave me a purpose.
Part of working on an action plan is making sure you are maintaining it year round. How you can make sure you are doing that is by going to Mid-Year. Mid-Year is a great place to reconnect with all your new friends from over the summer. It's also a great place to keep developing your leadership skills and action plan. You can see a future and you can set goals, but if you don’t put in the work nothing is going to change. As a middle school participant, you are the youngest group with so much to learn still. You are going to make mistakes; it's all a part of the journey of learning. Even though you are a part of the youngest group at camp you are a part of the group of leaders from your community. You are a leader and learning makes a huge difference. You have the courage to go to an unknown place and learn about preventing substance use and creating an all inclusive environment.
Middle school comes to an end, and once you graduate from eighth grade you can become a high school participant. As a high school participant, you get to make more friends. You still get to enjoy workshops and general sessions. I would say the biggest difference is Discussion Groups. Discussion Groups in middle school are with people closer to your age and you have in common that you are all still new to TI. As a high school participant you are thrown into a group with people who have more experience being a leader in their communities. The great part about that is you get to learn from your peers not just about TI and being a leader, but also about what to expect in high school. The summer after eighth grade for me was a chance to prepare myself for starting my freshman year.
If I had to pick one year as a participant that I enjoyed the most, it would have to be my fourth year at CGTI. After going through middle school and my first year of high school, I felt at home when going back. When you get to know the people and get into the groove of how the days go both at Mid-Years and over the summer, you have more time to have fun. After three years of learning and growing out of the awkwardness, you get to enjoy the summer even more than before. What I learned is that you don’t feel weird participating in workshops and taking healthy risks once you become more and more conformable. Not only that but you can take even more leadership roles in your community. Age does equal more responsibilities. After being a high school participant, you can become a PALS member. A PALS member is a Participant with Advanced Leadership Skills. It is like training for being on Youth Staff. It's a lot more learning and practicing having a larger role in the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute. You still do action planning and watch the general sessions. Again the biggest difference is Discussion Groups. In PALS, you have PALS meetings where you learn things. You still process things from the workshops throughout the day, but the activities are different. Taking on being a PALS member is like saying you're ready to take a larger step in your leadership journey - both in your community and in CGTI. PALS only happens in the summer, meaning you could do PALS and still be a high school participant in the winter.
Just like PALS, Youth Staff only happens in the summer. For PALS you can do that the summer after your junior year. Youth Staff you do once you have done PALS and complete high school. Obviously in the past there have been exceptions and the circumstances of the world affected how TI did things in 2020 and 2021. Now we are back and better than ever. Youth Staff was such a special experience for me I will never forget. It was a long journey to get to be on Youth Staff and one worth taking. My world is a lot bigger than what it was in middle school. I had the typical moments of doubt about whether or not staff was for me. The great thing about Youth Staff is you get to learn, practice and have larger roles. You are there for staff trainings. You get to co-facilitate Discussion Groups and action planning. You have more responsibilities and with that comes the freedom of getting to learn how you fit in with the staff group. You are no longer working with your school peers, you are working with people who taught you. You get to spend time learning more from them, but also getting to know them. You never stop making friends at CGTI and you never stop growing into a better leader.
Home is where the heart is, home is where your chosen family is. A home is a safe place where you are allowed to grow. Where you can leave and come back, even if it's been years, and you are welcomed in with open arms. Home is where unconditional love and acceptance are. Home is an environment where you can learn how to be a better member of your community. Home is the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute. That is the biggest thing I learned throughout the years because after the time spent growing through CGTI, it really becomes your home. It becomes your family where you get to pass on traditions and wisdom to new members. Where you still get to learn from those who have been around longer than you. That's what being on staff truly is: you are a part of a family and you have an important role to play. Being on Volunteer Staff is just one step towards even more. I am just at the point of being on Volunteer Staff and one day I may be on the Leadership Team. Growth in CGTI truly never stops. The love for the people and missions of IABH, Snowball, Focus, and CGTI keeps growing. You can start at any point and be welcomed in with open arms. You could have no experience or a lot of experience in Snowball and CGTI regardless you are welcomed in with open arms. The journey to staff doesn’t just take one path. I told my journey based on what I experienced. Every single member of staff experienced a different journey and so will you.
In July 2019, CGTI is conducting its 45th annual Teen Institute, a five-day leadership conference sponsored by IABH. It is an award-winning program that offers opportunities for youth around the state to learn about leadership, healthy choices, and working with others to create better communities.
This year the theme for CGTI 2019 will be HOPE (Healthy Outcomes through Prevention Education).
We are looking for dynamic presenters to empower our participants and communities, as they seek opportunities to be catalyst for change. We have several workshops available for middle school and high school participants, as well as workshops for adult mentors. We would love for you to present at CGTI this summer at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
Our budget for presenters is limited, but we will consider your request for an honorarium and/or reimbursement for travel and expenses. Presenting at CGTI is a great way to get your message (and your name) out to hundreds of youth and adults from across the state of Illinois.
Presentation topics should be related to:
Teens Reaching and Achieving Excellence (TRAX) workshops will be held Monday, July 22 and Wednesday, July 24 for 60 minutes. Round Robins will be held Tuesday, July 23 for 60 minutes. General Sessions will be held Sunday through Wednesday for 45 minutes.
A firm deadline for submitting proposals is Friday, April 15, 2019 at 4:00PM. Should you have any questions regarding CGTI 2019, please contact Ashley Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another year in the books for the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute and it was one of the best ones yet!
Last month, we held our 43rd annual conference at Eastern Illinois University, a campus that we have happily called home base for five years. This year our theme was "Color Y(our) Future," with each of our discussion groups being named after a color. We thought color was the perfect representation for our camp: a bunch of individuals coming together to make something beautiful and bright!
As with each year, before we could begin welcoming our participants, our staff arrived Friday afternoon for a weekend of training. Between presentations and planning, scavenger hunts and trivia, we we're able to spend a little time bonding and prepping for the week ahead.
The participants arrived to our chorus of honking cars and cheering staff on Sunday afternoon and after unpacking and doing energizers, attended our opening ceremony. We also welcomed alumni back this year for our second Alumni Luncheon event.
This year's opening ceremony was extra special. We were proud to announce that our volunteer staff led a fundraising campaign that raised $26,477! 100% (75) of our volunteer staff exceeded or met their $200 goal, and we could not be more grateful to them and the many wonderful donors that helped us get to this point! With this money, we'll get a 2:1 match from the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations! Our fundraising efforts will continue with our 2:1 match until December 15.
The week was definitely busy, but in the best way. We had four wonderful general session speakers to start off our mornings: De'Marco Fomby, who spoke about our ability to influence; Julie Kelly, who spoke about how situations do not need to define you; Fabian Ramirez, who touched on the effects of bullying; and Eddie Slowiskowski, who used the art of dance and music to discuss life and success. Their energy and enthusiasm helped us wake up and prepare for the day!
On Monday and Wednesday, we had our TRAX (Teens Reaching and Achieving Excellence) Workshops. Each day featured multiple workshops for our middle school and high school participants that ranged from starting an Operation Snowball Chapter (prevention group in your school) to depression and stress relief to fostering leadership skills to suicide and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention, and college and career readiness. Participants are able to select workshops they would like to attend based on what skills they'd like to expand on or areas they'd like to learn more about.
On Tuesday we had our Round Robin sessions. Kevin Wanzer spoke about finding the funny in life in one of our sessions and a trivia gameshow about our program as well as pop culture was led in the other. What a great energy boost!
Each day our participants were able to meet with their discussion groups and Community Action Teams (CAT). In discussion groups, they were able to process the day's events, work on team building activities and bond with others from outside of their communities. Our CATs met to identify and focus on local issues and create action plans for their own specific communities.
We also had some special events each day! On Monday night, our discussion groups participated in a scavenger hunt based on our color theme. They were asked to find locations, discuss fun questions with their groups and participate in team building activities. On Tuesday, we had our Tuesday Night Live talent show led by our Activity Coordinators. All of our participants did a wonderful job taking the stage and sharing their talents with us! On Wednesday, we had our celebration. DJ Ritchie C led a dance in the main ballroom with board games set up in the other. Participants were also able to play games, bowl and swim, visit the CGTI store and relax during free time hours each day.
Each year we're are so amazed by what our staff and participants are able to accomplish at camp both in their groups and out. The plans created, the lessons learned, the bonds made and the fun had inspire us to make sure that our Mid-Year and our next camp are even BETTER and to continue finding ways to positively affect the communities and people around us! We can't thank everyone who participated and led this year for what wonderful memories they've left us with, what opportunities they've created and what changes they have already begun to make!
We can't wait to see all the positive change our participants make in their school and/or community over the next school year. We had such a great 2017 and we're looking forward to seeing everyone at our Mid-Year event January 13-14 to hear what's been accomplished since then!