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Kaleo Academy cancels youth camps at Barclay College

Hannah Brown
Special to the Signal
Kaleo Conversations brings trainers together to talk about missed opportunities for students who couldn't go to summer camp at Barclay College in Haviland because of COVID-19 concerns.

Kaleo Academy, a national Friends youth training program, made the tough decision to cancel it’s 2020-2021 cohort due to COVID-19. Last week would have kicked off the new year for Kaleo mentors and mentees after a week of theology camp

“Our staff found it very hard to make a decision in times of great worldly indecision,” said director Brockie Follette. “A Kaleo Academy cohort may only be programmed for 10 months, but we build life long connections. We really grieved not building those forever relationships this year. ”

This would have been the fourth year that Kaleo Academy has hosted a theology camp to jumpstart their 10-month program, all with Follette as the director. After teens and their mentors visit Barclay College for camp, they go back into their communities to work through the online program and continue building relationships with their mentors. All of this hard work culminates in a service project that students complete in their communities. The leaders of Kaleo decided that it wouldn’t be the same experience for students without the in-person camp. Instead, organizers decided to create a different type of program for this year. There were many conversations had with Kaleo Academy Alumni. Out of those conversations came four different Kaleo pieces for this year. A big component of this year’s layout is “Kaleo Conversations” which are virtual meetings held to help students navigate this uncertain time.

“Those came about because, when we were listening to our alumni, we were asking them; what are some of the opportunities you’re missing this summer,” said Follette. “What are something on your mind? We wanted to hear the heartbeat of them.”

The five “conversations” that the group came up with discus summer camp, VBS, mission trips, intergenerational ministry, and racial injustice. There are three components this year in the adapted Kaleo year. The first is Kaleo Connections, where students can share ideas to help move the Friends Movement forward. Next is Kaleo Community, a space where students can lead worship online. Kaleo Classes are the final piece of the puzzle this year. They are interactive zoom classes where past Kaleo Academy teachers host classes for alumni to attend.

Although this was a very hard decision to make by Follette and her team, it is clear that some good things came out of this season.

“Already the loss of what we usually do has allowed us to pivot and shift our attention to new spaces,” said Follette.

For more information about Kaleo Academy or to view this year’s virtual parts of Kaleo Academy, visit their Facebook page, Kaleo Academy.