First lady to campers: Use your voice

Published 5:44 am Saturday, July 28, 2018

WILLIAMSBURG — Melania Trump, first lady of the United States, encouraged the 229 youth attending Camp UNITE to make the right choice by staying away from drugs and alcohol in a video message presented on the leadership/adventure program’s final night.

“Your positive impact can be so powerful,” Mrs. Trump said. “With your voice, you have the ability to stand up for a friend being mistreated. With your voice, you have the ability to make positive decisions and say no to drugs and alcohol. With your voice, you can be an example of kindness wherever you go.”

The theme for Camp UNITE 2018 was “UNITE Strong: A Voice of Hope.” This theme reflects the ability of campers, Team Leaders and adult volunteers to be an example for others in making positive, healthy choices – both during Camp and, especially, once they return to their home and school environments.

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Throughout the week, this message was conveyed through fun, interactive activities that exposed participants to new options and opportunities. In addition, time was set aside for introspective discussions and special presentations about the consequences of poor decision-making and ways to avoid making the wrong choices.

“As you come together with your fellow campers this week, I’m sure you saw that unity builds strength,” Mrs. Trump said. “It should be a reminder that you are never alone when facing difficult situations.”

In May 2018, Mrs. Trump launched the “Be Best” campaign to focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to BE BEST in their individual paths, while also teaching them the importance of social, emotional, and physical health.

“Be Best” concentrates on three main pillars: well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse.

In the campaign, Mrs. Trump notes that it is imperative for communities “to take responsibility and help our children manage the many issues they are facing today, including encouraging positive social, emotional and physical habits.”

Camp activities are designed to develop leadership and communication skills, promote teamwork and problem solving, instill confidence and trust, and let youth know they do not have to face difficult situations on their own. In addition, one of the most valuable components of camp is the peer mentorship and positive role models provided by high school juniors, seniors and college-age students who serve as Team Leaders.

“I want to provide as much support as possible for you in starting your adult lives on the right track,” Mrs. Trump pledged in her message to those participating in Camp UNITE. “Although it might be easier to give in to peer pressure or to join in with a group that is being mean, remember the power of your voice.”

“The easiest path is not always the right path. Think back to this camp and remember that you have each other to depend on as voices of hope,” Mrs. Trump concluded. “I can’t wait to see how you help change your community for good.”