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2018 Older Youth Retreat


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2017 Older Youth Retreat

Check back soon for more information about the 2017 Older Youth Retreat at the PITT Johnstown campus.

"The 2k17 Retreat was an amazing experience! I had such a blast at Pitt Johnstown. I met so many new people and grew close with those people since the retreat. I've tried so many new things that I thought I would never try in my life. I believe that everyone should experience this much fun in one place! I'd love to attend again!"
-Tay B.

"The YAB retreat was a lot of fun. Everyone there was very accepting and very open-minded to everyone and the way they were. I never felt that I was being judged or criticized by anything that I did. There were so many people from such different backgrounds and it made everyone come together as a team and work together to make everyone feel safe and comfortable. I look forward to coming back and being a part of it again."
-Shaniah H.

2017 Older Youth Retreat Video

2016 Older Youth Retreat

The theme for the 2016 Older Youth Retreat was "The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence." This quote was chosen by youth on the Retreat Steering Committee. They felt what most might see as failure and mistakes, youth see as stepping stones in the right direction! The quote is so powerful to youth. The retreat was an opportunity to give youth a new perspective and a way to bond.

During the week-long retreat, youth participate in countless activities such as; jewelry making, canvas painting, vision boards, furniture painting, scrapbooking, hip hop dancing, and so much more. As I walked around, one of many things that I observed was how focused and creative the youth were. Many youth were projecting their feelings and dreams through their artwork. Youth in foster care are extraordinary and resilient, and sometimes it takes compelling events like the retreat to give us something to be proud of by highlighting our strengths. The Older Youth Retreat is one of the greatest resources available to youth in care. It gives youth an opportunity to stop and reflect. I believe the retreat empowers, encourages, helps youth feel confident, and shows how significant they are. This year's retreat gave youth a new perspective on life, pointing out opportunities and so much more.

Jesenia Loarte
Youth Quality Improvement Specialist


2016 Older Youth Retreat Video

2015 Older Youth Retreat

Each year in August, current or former foster youth from all different counties travel to Johnstown, PA to interact with other youth. The retreat is a week-long and the youth stay on campus in dorms. During the retreat, the youth participate in activities like sports, hip hop dance, jewelry making and furniture making. It also gives foster youth a chance to connect and reconnect to other foster youth so they won't feel alone. The ages of the youth are 16-21. During the week the youth participated in focus groups. The focus group gave youth a chance to talk about their current and past living situation. It also reminded them that they have rights as youth. The retreat is very youth driven and it shows the youth that no matter what situation they are in we are always here to support them. At the end of the week a lot of youth participated in the talent show. Youth were able to share their stories though singing, dancing, and poetry. Although some youth may feel uncomfortable at first, the other youth in the audience made the youth as a performer feel comfortable. In the beginning of the week many youthmany youth start off as strangers but as the week grows they come close like family.

April Phillips, Youth Ambassador



2015 Older Youth Retreat Video

2014 Youth Retreat

The theme for the 2014 Older Retreat was "We Are Infinite." The Older Youth Retreat has a yearlong process that could not be done without the steering committee. It was great to be a part of the steering committee and work with other youth and staff to plan out the entire week of the retreat. It is a great way to bring out leadership skills and teach youth other skills such as organization and the planning process that goes into creating such a fulfilled week! The hard work pays off when the time comes to enjoy the week with everyone else.

It was great being a co-facilitator and being able to watch the bond of the peer groups grow, especially as the youth were able to relate and connect with each other. It is just truly amazing watching the youth come out of their comfort zones, make new friends, and become leaders so quickly. Everyone worked together and was very supportive during the peer group session games, such as cross the line.

The youth first noticed that just like they are infinite so were the countless amounts of activities that they could take part in during the week. There were activities for everyone such as all different sports, card and board games, movies, a variety of creative painting activities, hip hop dance, music expression, and of course the famous creative field day event. Along with all the great fun that everyone was having it was great to hear from Jamari, an older youth who was in the hash tag meet the kids and was adopted at the age of 20. And I can't forget Richard Santana who was the guest speaker. The youth loved his authenticity when he talked about his past experiences. Because the youth were able to relate to Mr. Santana, they really listened to his message about perseverance, drugs, and sex.

The retreat is such an amazing opportunity for youth to get to experience, from staying on a college campus to engaging in so many different activities. A comment that I will never forget that was made by a youth was, "For a week I was able to call this retreat my home". Between all the memories that are made and all the knowledge that the youth gain in learning about themselves and older youth resources are infinite! The youth left the retreat feeling more empowered, confident, and of course infinite!

Demara' M. Williams
Youth Ambassador for the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center


2014 Youth Retreat Video
2014 Youth Retreat Slideshow