Teens beat summer boredom by ‘making a difference’ in community

By: Loryll Nicolaisen Journal Staff Writer
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A group of local youth hopes to Make a Difference this summer. Under the direction of Natalie Pohley, kids and teens participating in the fourth-annual Make a Difference Camp — meeting at the State Theater in Auburn this week — have developed a youth advisory board focused on project-based curriculum, with three projects in mind this year. The projects include creating a TV show and/or documentary on the economy’s effects on different people, working with developmentally disabled youth and hosting a community dinner later this summer. While dinner details have yet to be set, one thing is clear — volunteers are welcome, said Pohley, youth program developer. This week the camp has set up at the State Theater in Downtown Auburn for a drama workshop featuring Random Abiladeze, a local hip-hop artist and motivational speaker. The teens are working with Auburn Community Television to prepare for filming the economy-inspired TV show. Anyone ages 8-18 is welcome to drop in for some drama fun from 9:30 a.m. to noon today and tomorrow, with a daily fee of $5. The group is scheduled to film on July 16. Pohley started Make a Difference Camp four years ago as a way to get kids to think outside of themselves. “Getting kids involved in community services is always successful,” she said. Pohley hosted the camp at Foothill Community Church the first two years. “I went to the church and said, ‘Hey, I want to do VBS (Vacation Bible School) without the ‘B,’” she said. Pohley had last year’s camp at the Gold Country Fairgrounds, and is happy to have snagged the State Theater for this year’s camp. All along, Pohley has offered teens seeking to fulfill community service hours the opportunity to volunteer at Make a Difference Camp. “Once they were done with their community service hours, they stuck with me,” she said. This is how Aaron Makinen, now 20, got involved with the camp three years ago. “When I started, I needed community service hours — I got into trouble, and I came to Natalie,” he said. “It was a pleasant experience. It makes you feel good when you help.” Brandon Lopez, 10, of Auburn, is a returning camper. “You don’t want to be home and not have fun,” he said. “It gives you a chance to have fun over the summer.” Lindsay Roberts, 13, is new to the group this summer, and is enjoying herself. “I think it’s a really good way to connect with people and to help the community,” she said. Call (530) 368-4455 for more information. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at, or comment online at