Seaside Afterschool Camp was a gritty institution that had been a fixture in the seedy underbelly of Hathian for decades. Located near the coast of Louisiana, this small oasis was home to inner-city youth with troubled pasts, who had nowhere else to turn to after school hours. The teachers who worked there were hardened veterans of the streets, who knew all too well the dangers that lurked outside its walls.
But Seaside was more than just a shelter for wayward youth. It was also a place where they could learn the skills they needed to survive in the unforgiving urban jungle. The teachers at Seaside taught the kids how to fight, how to hustle, and how to stay one step ahead of the law. It wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary.Seaside history ((Courtesy of the Seaside CD website))
Readers, Daiyu Tang here with good news for Hathian. The Seaside Youth camp has for many years stood with Hathian to protect, develop and instil with life skills the youth in the city. Whether they are sent for classes, or are part of a protective arrangement, Seaside has always been there to help them grow.
But all things age. Youth become adults. Buildings become run-down. While youth can, with the skills learned survive in Hathian, the buildings of Seaside could no longer survive ruinous repair bills and the risk of FDH condemnation. Therefore, for a while, fund-raising has been taking place to rebuild the Seaside Youth Camp for the next generation committed to it’s care.
I was invited to attend an opening event with Seaside staff, some of the youth they look after and benefactors and other patrons. I am pleased to bring you photos, general comments and an interview with one of the main women behind Seaside, Liz.
Interview with Liz
Daiyu: “Thank you for having me Liz, I think we’re covering today a bit about Seaside and how you are supporting Hathian youth and the wider community. Please start wherever makes sense to you!”
Liz: “So you came to our event last weekend which was more of a meet and greet so youth, families, volunteers, and staff could kind of meet and hang out. It wasn’t a very formal or anything. We just served a variety of food and there were games but not many took part in them. So it was more of a social gathering than anything.”
Daiyu: “So, I think for some of Hathian, Seaside isn’t really something they know what to do with. Can you tell me how both youth and adults can get involved and what some of the things you do to keep Seaside working well?”
Liz: “We are always open to having staff and volunteers who want and will work with the youth. We offer mentors, like some places call them a ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Big Sister’ kind of deal but we just call it Youth Mentors. Adults can be youth mentors and even youth can be youth mentors to the younger kids if they are 15 or older.
These are volunteer positions and basically if there is enough interest mentors can be assigned to certain youth or a couple of youth or they can just be a general youth mentor that works with anyone. Hang out with them. Show them stuff, engage with the youth in a positive way.
Youth are a tricky bunch given they all have varying backgrounds, but some of them have the same or similar backgrounds to the adults out there, so its nice for them to have someone they can relate to or develop a relationship with that they might look up to or things like that.”
Daiyu: “And what about paid positions? What scope do you have for that?”
Liz, “Good question, we also have paid positions. Counsellors are the generic term for staff. They can help with specific things, run clubs, tutor, be around for the youth here to supervise. Some staff may also be out there looking for youth on the street that might benefit from having a safe place to go. The kids can come and go as they please if they are not state assigned to this place.
So we have kids with families, and foster families. We also have kids who just need a safe place to go and can come and go. Then we also have residents here. We have dormitories upstairs. They go through a brief intake process when they come on their own or are assigned here. So basically staff and volunteers can help with all that. Its pretty open. Only thing thats required is you have to get along with kids and treat them well. It takes a special kind of person to work with youth, especially the youth of this city.”
Daiyu: “That sounds good and well thought out. What kind of activities can you offer here and I noted a lot of Police Officers at the last event, is that kind of a charity connection?”
Liz: “Activity wise, well I’m working on getting a set of camp programs going on. There will be themed weeks, so depending on the theme that week will determine what the activities are. But for like adventure week that would be things like rock climbing, ropes courses, cave exploration, scuba maybe if we can find the funding . All those sort of things. I am also applying for some grants to help us out this summer. There may also be some stand alone events like movie nights or paint ball. The entire process is finding the locations and how much its going to cost and what interest there is to offer. Recently a survey went out to the youth of the city and staff of Seaside to sort of see where interest levels may be.
The police have often come to any events we have here or the previous location. Its typically a charity thing yes. The HPD did provide us with a donation this past event which was kind of them. It is intended to go into some refurbished computer laptops for the residents to use, so they can do their homework, and just have some accessibility to what the rest of the kids their age have access to. The city does not provide us with much funding so pretty much everything is through donations and benefactors.”
So readers, not only did I have a lovely event surrounded by the kids and their minders, I also took away from Liz that there are plenty of chances for adults and the community to interact and join in. A quick search our archives showed the many stories around Seaside, showing the scope for you to make a difference with Hathian Youth:
Overall, I’d ask you support Liz either with your time, paid employment of donations in kind (cash is also gratefully received) and turn out to their events when they are running.
Contact Liz ((Dia.latour)) at this number ((phone number)) to find out more! Taxis can take you to Seaside HERE. Be like Bentley and Bella below – support your local youth!