Camp Verde adolescents collaborated and brainstormed ideas at the Camp Verde Community Library Saturday, Jan. 27 during the preliminary stages of the town’s youth council.Some ideas on deck were a teen nightclub, an LGBT group and even trying to bring a Dutch Bros to Camp Verde.
The purpose was to invest in youth and help them bring their visions to life, said Teen Librarian Zack Garcia, who helped guide the first meeting.
“Stuff like this didn’t exist when I was younger,” he said. “I will be learning right alongside them. I’m leaving it open-ended to see how far this goes.”
The Town of Camp Verde, in partnership with the library, Parks and Recreation and Economic Development departments, is sponsoring the new organization. It’s being modeled after other town youth councils as a way to inform Camp Verde officials on how the youth would visualize Camp Verde’s future.
“We want your help to make Camp Verde the best version of itself,” said Economic Development Specialist Sebra Choe as she addressed the youth. “It’s the version you guys are involved in.”
Parks and Recreation Coordinator Shawna Figy said she is willing to support the council by providing resources for them when they need it.
“Unlike what some people may think, there are a lot of things to do here and Camp Verde and we would like your input,” she said.
The library, which has become a central hub for youth engagement in Camp Verde, is planned to house all future meetings.
During a brainstorm session, parents, youth and Camp Verde officials were split into groups to come up with ideas that would fall in line with four key goals:
- Make history
- Make a difference through volunteering
- Make it rain [fundraising]
- Make it unforgettable
During a presentation of these ideas, Camp Verde High School junior Laddie Willis talked about some of the problems with littering he sees in the town.
“I hate how I see litter, he said. “I once saw a guy litter and I wanted to punch him.”
Willis suggested having a collaborative effort to keep streets clean and litter at bay. He also addressed the problem of there not being much to do for teens to do after school.
“We need a club; a safe nightclub,” he said. “As teens, there isn’t much we can do .... This will allow teens to go out and be social.”
As far as fundraising efforts go, Willis admitted that he is more of a spender than a saver and likes expensive things.
“We need to come up with creative ways to make money,” he said. “Face painting or selling bracelets would be a good example.”
Raymundo Rodriguez, a sophomore from Camp Verde High School, said he was interested in implementing an LGBT group program at the library. He said he is optimistic about the future of this council.
“I was part of another teen council but that dissolved,” he said. “This one has more structure.”
Seventh-grader Chandler Plante brought his own documentation to the meeting that outlined plans to make areas in Camp Verde more accessible to the disabled.
Plante has been active in the community since he was 5 years old. Every year, he helps rally the community together for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in downtown Camp Verde.
“Community engagement is fun,” Plante said. “I just feel many things need to be done and people don’t do.”
Eventually, Garcia said he’d like the youth council to work like a real council with board appointments and minute taking, but for now, he just wants to keep members engaged.
For now, youth council is just a placeholder name and is expected to change in the near future.
“Getting it to stick will be the hardest part,” he said. “We want this to be a collaborative thing and help guide them.”
The next meeting will be Saturday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. at the Camp Verde Community Library, 130 Black Bridge Road.
Kelcie Grega can be reached at 634-8551, or email firstname.lastname@example.org