Cameron Miles, the founder and director of an emerging mentoring program based in Baltimore, took a group of 40 youngsters on an intriguing and unforgettable trip to New York City as part of an annual cultural enrichment program.
Miles is the director and founder of Mentoring Male Teens in the Hood (MMTH), a program which serves young men from ages 8 to 18, most of whom live in the Baltimore metropolitan area and are from middle- and low-income backgrounds.
“We’re trying to keep the young men out of the penal system and out of the cemetery,” Miles described the organization’s objectives to the AFRO.
The program, which is in its 20th year of existence, started going on cultural enrichment trips seven years ago. For 2016, MMTH choose the historically rich Harlem, N.Y.
The trip lasted from June 24 to June 26, and in that time span the group visited a number of notable attractions, including the famed Apollo Theater, Broadway, Rucker Park and Central Park. They concluded the trip with an outing on the Hudson River, where the participants got to see the Statue of Liberty.
“I think the trip was awesome because a lot of young people are getting caught up in different activities here in Baltimore City that are not always positive. Many of our young people are getting shot. So, being able to get out of the city for a weekend and seeing things that they’ve never seen before hopefully will help them to make better decisions in the friends they choose, where they hang out what they decide to do in trying to make money,” said Miles.
“There’s a great deal of excitement when you set up a cultural enrichment trip because the majority of the families can’t afford to take their families on a vacation. Once a year, for the last seven years, through donations we’ve been able to take a cultural enrichment trip.”
The New Shiloh Family Light Center, which is an offshoot of the New Shiloh Baptist Church, houses the program, which also works to prepare young men for college and long-term careers.
“Many of our young men don’t get to get out of Baltimore,” said Miles, suggesting that Harlem was not only good exposure for the inner-city youth, but was a meaningful learning experience as well.
The program also visited Columbia University, where the group learned about the college application process, the programs offered at the institution and the type of financial aid offered.
“We went from ‘A to Z.’ I just want them to have as much information as possible,” Miles said.
Next year’s cultural enrichment trip, according to Miles, will most likely be to a university in North Carolina.
“We want them to make good choices, so we’re trying to put the kind of things in place that will help them make choices… We want them to strive for excellence and to realize that anything worth having is not free, and they work hard. That’s my hope of what they got out of the trip,” Miles said.