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    Older, wiser Crossroads kid returns to camp, this time as counselor

    Luna Charles (left) of Brockton, with Crossroads for Kids staffer Elvira Teixeira, made a service trip to Washing-ton, D.C. in April.
    Luna Charles (left) of Brockton, with Crossroads for Kids staffer Elvira Teixeira, made a service trip to Washing-ton, D.C. in April.

    For five years, Luna Charles of Brockton was a participant in Duxbury-based Crossroads for Kids, a youth leadership-building nonprofit for at-risk young people, getting all she could out of it. Now, the 2015 Brockton High School graduate is giving back.

    This summer, she’ll be a counselor at the agency’s teen leadership program at Camp Wing in Duxbury, helping other young people learn what she did.

    “I learned more about myself than anything else at Crossroads for Kids,” said Charles, 18, the youngest of four children of Haitian immigrant parents. “I’d never reflected on myself as a leader, but it taught me how I can be a leader for myself, for others, and my community.”

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    She was nominated for Crossroads in middle school and saw the “great opportunity and chance to get away from home for a while, get a change of scenery, which is what I wanted.”

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    Each year of the program had a different focus, she said, geared around building leadership skills. In her second year, part of the campers’ training was comparing themselves to animals. Charles learned she was more of a bear, an aggressive sort.

    “But by my second or third year, I realized I changed more to an eagle, an overseer,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t always have to be that aggressive.”

    The experience as a summer camper and participant in year-round Crossroads programs was life-changing, she said.

    “For five years, I traveled to cities I’d never been to, met some amazing, supportive staff and peers,” she said. “I found a second family.”

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    She knew she eventually wanted to be a counselor, taking an apprentice program in her third summer at Crossroads. She was no stranger to leadership before: Charles, a member of the National Honor Society in high school, is also a member of the Brockton Mayor’s Youth Council and ambassador for the Brockton Talent Search program, which teaches students about college and how to finance an education.

    Her travels in Crossroads have taken her to Washington, D.C., and Wyoming — places “out of my comfort zone,” she said, forcing her to rely on the leadership skills she’d learned. This fall, she’ll attend Quinnipiac College.

    But for this summer, and others in her college career, she said, “I’m going back where I started.”

    Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at pkandarian@aol.com.