Teenagers are learning a special set of skills

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - The YMCA's Youth Institute (YI) program is designed to teach teenagers creative media skills, but first they recently had to spend a week camping in the Black Hills.

All that week they bonded by participating in a variety of activities that promoted team work and thinking outside the box.

"During like the whole camping trip, it definitely broke me out of my comfort zone because we did a lot of challenges like spider web," said Bailen Hayford in an interview June 14, this is his first year with Youth Institute, "you had a bunch of strings together tied to trees and you had to go through them but you couldn't use a hole more than twice so I was the small kid so I usually had to be picked up and lifted through the hole and so that definitely got me out of my comfort zone."

Today the teens are back in the classroom, for the next several weeks they will learn the basics in programs such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and will be taught how to a story, shoot video and edit that video. They will better photography skills and will take photography field trips as well as how to make digital art.

"I guess the filming and photography because I never done that ever," said Hayford when asked what he looks forward to the most.

The program started in 2012 and around 12 teenagers, now more than 200 teens have gone through the program since then. Teens who finish their first year at YI are invited for to apply for two additional years to brush up on their skills.

"Before YI, I didn't really know what i wanted to do for like college or really my life or anything and now I'm like wanting to do something in like filming or photography," said Sarah Sewell, teen staff for the institute, "so it really brought out a lot of my personal passions."

With all the time they spend together learning and creating, a special bond among each other forms.

"I like the programs that we get to learn about," said Maddie Lomely, who is in her second year. "I like the people here they are really nice, I have a lot of friends here and I would consider them family to me."

The program started June 4 and will run until July 27.

During the school year the Youth Institute campus will act as an after school program for alumni to go there and continue to work on their skills.