“...peace must first be established among individuals, until it leadeth in the end to peace among nations. Wherefore, O ye Baha’is, strive ye with all your might, to create, through the power of the Word of God, genuine love, spiritual communion and durable bonds among individuals. This is your task.” (Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha p. 245)
From the moment the first staff member arrives to the directors home to serve in the program, to the full staff contingent of 15 to 18 souls… and then the arrival of approximately 45 students… we are striving, with all our might, “to create, through the power of the Word of God, genuine love, spiritual communion and durable bonds among individuals” at the Change for Tomorrow Program.
We meet with great expectations, a yearning to create an atmosphere of true love, of creativity, of spiritual joy. This is a program that creates true joy, not a pleasurable-vacation type of experience, but a friend-making, joyful community experience.
This year, 2012, for the first time, the majority of staff members will themselves be graduates of the CFT (previously named TFP) Program. In their applications to serve, they wrote:
I really love the CFT program; it definitely changed my life and helped shape the person I am today. I am so interested in staffing there because I want other junior youth to get the same experience I did and be able to just feel the security, happiness, and love for one another that you get when you’re there. (From a female staffer)
The TFP/CFT program has brought me the most joy within Bahai educational programs. Both as a student and a staff member I was able to make lasting friendships and gain knowledge about the Faith in which I can share with others. (From a male staffer)
“One of the greatest programs for me who have been the TFP/CFT program because it had enlightened me to learn more about the faith and deepened me. I gained many moral teachings from the program and gained a lot spiritually. The people and friends I met had been the one of the best things because, I am still in contact with them and they have made a great impact on me, especially the people I look up to such as the camp counselors and directors. ” - From a male staffer
When I was a junior youth and I attended TFP I felt as though it was one of the greatest things that happened to me because coming from a community where there are not many active youth that I can relate to it was nice to meet other Baha’i junior youth that were going through the same thing. Also having a junior youth group brought me joy because I realized how doing such a simple thing for these kids and showing them that you care could mean so much to them. – From a female staffer
In 2007, 44 students participated in the program. In 2008, 30 of the original 44 students returned to the program and 16 new students enrolled. In 2009, 29 students returned, and 10 new students joined us for a total of 39. In 2010, 28 new students joined us and 15 returned from the previous year, for a total of 43 students. Last year, 25 students returned, we had 12 new students, for a total of 37.
The program has evolved over the past five years to encourage, support, and accompany junior youth and youth who wish to establish and strengthen Junior Youth Groups in Texas. Staff training lasts 5 days, and it is essential to developing the spirit of service and bonds of love and unity that permeate the program for the whole week. The staff pray, sing, laugh, play games, and study the Baha’i Writings and the guidance of the Universal House of Justice. A certified teacher with more than 20 years experience teaching middle school children trains the staff members on how to effectively engage with 12, 13, 14, and 15 year olds.
Through consultation and games, prayer and reflection, we create a learning environment that encourages the students to think critically about the world around them, to share their thoughts and feelings, and to encourage them to develop capacity to serve humanity, to change the world. We encourage independent thinking, problem solving, consultation, and collaboration.
Youth Can Move The World