“Tims Camps gave me more confidence in myself and made me the leader that I am in my community. You’re put through stressful situations and you develop these teamwork skills and the ability to bond with different people. I had the chance to take what I learned into my community and that’s the coolest part of this. Something that drives me is to think: “If nobody else will do it, who will?” That’s when I come into the picture.”
A lot of participants leave Tims Camps with a new nickname, but few are as fitting as Antonio’s: Mr. President.
After all, Antonio – you can call him Prez for short – is president of his Flint, Michigan high school’s national honours society chapter, he’s president of one of Flint’s largest youth groups, Youth Ambassadors, and he volunteers his time for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the National Clean Water Collective, and several other charitable boards and organizations.
Even more impressive? He’s somehow managed to do all of this before his 17th birthday this summer.
Antonio also spent six years at Tims Camps, progressing through programming that challenged him to expand his horizons and equipped him with skills to become a leader in his community.
The first time you travelled to Tims Camp, had you been to Canada before?
No. We usually do family reunions every year and things of that nature, so I had been out of state, but getting the chance to go to another country? I was like, sign me up!
It was very new to me. It was definitely a culture shock. You see so many diverse cultures, languages – it was pretty cool.
Looking back, do you have any favourite memories of camp?
One of my most memorable moments was a talent show where a good friend of mine and I did Good Morning Canada, our rendition of Good Morning America. We had written a skit while camping overnight – we were news anchors who kept saying sorry and made a lot of bagged milk jokes – and it just put a smile on people’s faces.
And then one of the most challenging moments I’ll probably never forget was an overnight hike in my second year. Our counsellors did whatever they had to do to make sure we kept going. They kept saying, “Go on guys, we’re almost near the campsite.” I don’t want to say they were lying to us – let’s say they were encouraging us (laughs).
We were hiking across bridges over highways, cars would honk in support! We climbed up mountains. It was the middle of summer and I was super hot and super irritated. But I was also surrounded by people who wanted to see me succeed and who had the same goal as me. So I kept on going.
That was my true moment of perseverance at camp. I was definitely challenged that day. It felt so good as soon as we got to the campsite to know that we could do it.
How did experiences like that change you?
Tims Camps gave me more confidence in myself and made me the leader that I am in my community. You’re put through stressful situations and you develop these teamwork skills and the ability to bond with different people.
I had the chance to take what I learned into my community and that’s the coolest part of this. Something that drives me is to think: “If nobody else will do it, who will?” That’s when I come into the picture.
Camp allows you to be the best version of yourself. It pulls off those weaknesses and turns them into strengths. I’m not going to lie – everything will not be butterflies and rainbows. However, Tims Camps is a growth experience and it’s always worth your while.
With a nickname like yours, could politics be in your future?
100 per cent. I actually plan on being some type of political figure or I’m definitely going to be as involved in my community as I am already.
I plan to go to school to study political science. My aspirations are definitely very community-driven.
I don’t believe in, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” That puts you in a bubble, because it means you have to wait until you’re 18 years old to do what you want to do. You can do it now.