YABPa Youth Advisory Board

2018 Retreat Video

Watch the 2018 Retreat Video

"My name is Lexi,

This is my 3rd year attending the Older Youth Retreat, as well as, my last retreat. This year the retreat was amazing. I learned new things with other youth and made stronger connections with the youth that was there previous years. I also was able to build on my leadership skills and facilitate.

My activity was All Star Experience. This was 3rd time experiencing this activity. I loved participating in this activity because we were able to play different sports like: kick ball, basketball, volleyball and more. My favorite sport that we played was volleyball because I learned that "just because you may think you can't do something or someone says they don't think you can, doesn't mean you can't try". I had the chance to see how well the youth were able to work together and lean on each other like a team. As a bonus, my team won the volleyball tournament!

The guest speaker that spoke at the banquet was Randy Walker. I thought his presentation was amazing. While listening to his story I gained that your past does not determine your future and you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it with determination. This was my experience at the 2018 Older Youth Retreat. "

"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 Retreat Video
Watch the 2016 Retreat Video

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