MARSHALL - More than 200 seventh-graders from Tracy and Marshall met at the Marshall Area YMCA on Wednesday to shout, sing, listen to loud music and talk about courage.
"It's the Youth Frontiers," said Sonja Langerock, guidance counselor for Tracy Area middle and high schools. "They're a group out of the Twin Cities and this is a courage retreat day just for seventh-graders, to bring them together to talk about things they might need courage for."
Youth Frontiers is a non-profit organization founded 25 years ago, which organizes retreats based on the themes of kindness, courage, respect, responsibility and wisdom.
Photo by Steve Browne
Peer helper Alexis Buysse of Tracy Area High School leads a group of seventh-graders from Marshall and Tracy on Wednesday in a discussion on courage at a retreat at the Marshall Area YMCA by Youth Frontiers, a non-profit organization based in the Twin Cities.
"We're doing a lot of team building, sharing a lot of information on how to demonstrate courage, welcome risk taking, and acceptance," said Marshall Middle School Principal Mary Kay Thomas.
Assisting Youth Frontiers staff were about 30 peer helpers recruited from Tracy Area and Marshall high schools, who led and mentored the each of the small teams of students.
"We had to write a letter to our guidance counselor to apply," said Tracy Area High School senior Alexis Buysse. "I applied because I have a younger brother, and I know kids like to have someone to look up to and be a role model."
Though Buysse said bullying is not as much of a problem as formerly, she takes it very seriously and would like to see it stopped. Bullying takes different forms with boys and girls.
"Girls have more drama," said Tracy Area student Heather Schmidt. "It's like, 'I don't like your sweatshirt.' Boys fight for real."
Students also thought bullying problems varied in different schools.
"Marshall is more intense because there are more of us," said Marshall student Alexis Baynard.
But whatever form it takes, kids have to be taught to deal with it the same way.
"Basically how to stand up for yourself," Schmidt said.
Youth Frontiers will have a kindness retreat for fifth-graders on Nov. 8.