In a few weeks, Marcus Bass is looking forward to a group of local students making a trip to explore an abundance of future opportunities.
“Some of the students that I have talked to have never left Sampson County,” said Bass, a Sampson County native who has worked with local youth for the past few years. “Living in a rural part of the state, they never get that exposure.”
He wants children and teenagers to realize that there are plenty of opportunities throughout North Carolina. It’s the reason he began the Camp Lead-Up Summer Leadership Institute a few years ago.
“A lot of kids feel they have to leave the state to make it,” Bass stressed. “You can do something here.”
Bass said the purpose is for local students to meet different leaders throughout North Carolina to discuss jobs and what’s possible after high school, offering them a wider-angle view of life and its possibilities.
The summer program is set for Aug. 4 to Aug. 9, with plans to have the students visit Raleigh for the week. Participating students are scheduled to visit Wake Technical Community College, Saint Augustine University, William Peace University and North Carolina State University.
The plan also includes trips to businesses and meetings with elected officials in the Wake County area.
Camp Lead-Up is now in its fourth year. Bass is seeking financial assistance for lodging expenses for this year’s event, planned a little differently than in year’s past. Fundraising has been sustained by contributing organizations, businesses and organizations. The hope, he said, is to raise enough money so participants won’t have to pay for the camp and the out-of-town trip.
“My goal is to provide the camp without charging students,” he said. “It’s been a camp, but it has never had a residential component. With the housing comes an extra cost.”
Lead-Up started locally in 2011 at First Baptist Church, 900 College St., in Clinton, with the help of the church’s pastor, The Rev. Thomas Farrow Jr. It later moved to Sampson Community College because of its growth.
Since its inception, the program has served about 150 students.
“This is a Sampson County project and I’m glad to have something like this in the area,” Bass stressed.
This year, the program will include two camps . The eastern division will be based out of Sampson County and the western will be set in Charlotte, where Bass currently resides.
“Not only are we growing outside of Sampson County, but we are growing to serve the entire state,” Bass said.
Bass said the separate programs will come together in the fall for a college tour.
After graduating from college, Bass returned to the area to teach at Clinton High School and Sampson Middle School.
Bass knows about opportunities in North Carolina firsthand. The Sampson County native now resides in Charlotte, making a difference through the North Carolina Association of Educators as a Uniserv director for the South Central Region.
For more information or to donate toward the camp visit www.campleadup.org. Donations may also be dropped off at First Baptist Church of Clinton, 900 College St.
“This is a chance to provide another level of experience for our students,” he said. “I’m really glad that people have seen the value of the program.”
(Chase Jordan can be reached by calling 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter @SampsonInd.)