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It’s that time of year again! Welcome back! :)

Wow! Has this summer just FLOWN by or what?!?! It feels like we were celebrating the end of the school year, telling our Seniors goodbye, and getting ready to head off to camp at Georgia Teen Institute! Now it’s now to put on your new fancy school clothes, pack up your binder and pencils in that fancy backpack of yours, and get back into the daily routine of school. For some of you, this time of year is exciting and you look forward to seeing your friends everyday. For the rest of you, you just wish you could sleep in and not worry about showering (we here at JustUsTeens feel ya!). So, to help make this new school year transition as smooth as possible, check out this back to school checklist for teens:

  1. A full stomach. Eating breakfast before school will keep you from feeling sluggish and help you do better in class.
  2. Your favorite outfit (whether it’s brand-new or an old favorite). You want to feel comfy and confident on your first day back.
  3. Some good anecdotes about your summer. Everyone will be asking, so you’d might as well come prepared.
  4. A new haircut. You’ll feel extra-polished and hold your head a little higher.
  5. Your locker combination. Written down, on a piece of paper. Just in case you forget it. (Even the sharpest tools in the shed have been known to draw a blank from time to time.)
  6. Comfy shoes. Skip the heels or anything that hasn’t been broken in yet. Stylin’ shoes aren’t worth the blisters you might get.
  7. Gum or mints. Your breath will probably be just fine, but you don’t want to get caught thinking it stinks after lunch. Plus, offering some to the kid next to you is a good icebreaker.
  8. A piece of fruit, or another small, healthy snack, in case you’re dying of hunger in the afternoon. Knowing you’ve got it might also keep you from gorging on a sugary dessert at lunch.
  9. A fun picture to hang in your locker. Personalizing your space will make you feel more at home and give you something to smile about each time you drop off your books.
  10. Some deodorant. You might get nervous about your first day, and nervous people sometimes sweat. And hey, better safe than sorry.
  11. An open mind. A new school year means a fresh start. Don’t be afraid to be friendly to people you used to ignore, or join a new club on a whim. It’s your school year – make the most of it.

Speaking of good summer anecdotes, we here at JustUsTeens LOVE to brag on our Bartow and Floyd Youth Action Teams (YAT)! Man have they been busy this summer! As we mentioned earlier, in June we hopped into our rental van and headed off to camp at Georgia Teen Institute in Oxford, GA! We had YAT members from both Bartow and Floyd attend, not to mention 3 of our former YAT members as staff at camp!

During our 4 days at camp, we met TONS of new friends, learned a lot of new stuff from our diverse workshops, worked on our team building, and was taught all about how to create an action plan for our community. Georgia TI put it best:

“YATs follow the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) model while at Georgia Teen Institute and are encouraged to utilize Environmental Prevention Strategies. Teams complete an assessment of their communities by reviewing the Georgia Department of Education’s Georgia Student Health Survey and the Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS Count data and identifying relevant community issues. YAT members then identify resources that their Team may have available in their schools and communities related to their identified issues. Teams spend a majority of their Team Meeting time planning the project identified through the Assessment phase. In the Planning phase, YATs pick a project, create a goal statement, make a to-do list and determine a budget. Teams also determine an evaluation method for their project to address the Evaluation step of the SPF. Throughout the process, YAT members work to ensure that Cultural Competency and Sustainability are addressed.”

In a shortened version, we identified an issue that teens face in our community, came up with a way to raise awareness and educate our community about this, identified our resources, and created a timeline for actually doing this!

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More than anything, Georgia Teen Institute really pulls us together as a team! It is always amazing to see our members on the first day (shy, quiet, nervous) and to see them by that third day (yelling out the GTI chants, sitting with new friends at meal time, making tons of stuff for their Secret Pal).March-July2014 435March-July2014 427

It is always a sad day when we reach that fourth day of camp and go to our last general assembly. Lots of hugs and numbers exchanged later, and then we are on our way back to our community energized and ready to share everything we have learned!

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After a fabulously fun June, our girls from the Floyd Youth Action Team, jumped into planning mode for our annual Girl’s Summer Camp for middle school aged females. Our camp this year was held on July 14-17th at the wonderful Fielder’s Center in Rome, GA. I have to say, that this year was the best year yet! We had a Disney Princess theme (because who doesn’t love to sing “Let it go!!” at the top of your lungs?). Our YAT girls helped teach about healthy relationships, dating do’s and don’ts, makeup tips and safety, relaxation techniques, and incorporated some fun physical activities. We had some really awesome crafts that we made daily, and we swapped sweet notes of encouragement in our “treasure boxes.”March-July2014 625

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After all of these inspirational events this summer, I’m ready for……..MORE (you thought I was going to say a nap, didn’t you?)! At JustUsTeens, we LOVE seeing our youth lead the way, stand up for what they believe in, and become role models for the generations coming after them. This has been an incredibly productive summer, and we can’t wait to see what this school year will bring! So, good luck on your first day of school and we can’t wait to see and hear about all of the wonderful things our youth are doing! 🙂

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Want to get excited? Want to be a part of something HUGE? GTI staff applications are here NOW!

Are you looking for a life changing experience? Georgia Teen Institute is more than just a summer camp, it is something completely special and unique! At GTI, we yell, like all of the time, and we sometimes we dance. You make friends with other youth from all OVER the state! You learn how to be a leader, make change, and be a part of something that is WAYYYYYY bigger than you or me! Interested yet?

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Georgia Teen Institute summer camp STAFF applications are NOW available! Just visit GUIDE, Inc. website and download an application!All applications are DUE by January 6, 2014.

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