BHS alumna hopes to make lasting impression on little eyes

Published 4:21 pm Monday, July 14, 2014

Bogalusa High School alumna Joiya Smith has scheduled a Little Eyes Are Watching Youth Camp to take place at the school July 23-25.

The three-day camp, for children 6 to 16 years of age, will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

“The camp is basically meant to set a good example for the children of the community and show them how to give back,” camp organizer and 2012 BHS graduate Smith said. “It also shows us as Bogalusa High School alumni how to give back.”

While attending Bogalusa High from 2008 through 2012, Smith and her close friends could not understand why some people did not give back to local youth and their community.

“We had a few supporters, but not as many as we deserved,” she said. “It felt like everything we wanted to see in our community would not come to pass unless we did it ourselves.

“But I am thankful for that lack of help because it planted a seed of ambition. We made a promise that when the time comes, we will change the city of Bogalusa.”

Thus, she and a few others decided to start the camp as their first initiative.

“I want it to be known that this is not only ‘Joiya working,’” she added. “God did give me the vision to do it, but it would not have been done unless I had the support of my family, friends and the BHS alumni.”

Smith said she is also grateful to the Bogalusa City Schools, Bogalusa High and the city of Bogalusa and Mayor Charles Mizell for offering their support and accepting her vision without hesitation.

Smith said there will be various classes at the camp, including sports, dance, team building and mentoring.

“It is our mission as Bogalusa High School alumni and Little Eyes Are Watching counselors to be that change we want to see in Bogalusa,” Smith said.

She said the name of the camp has a special meaning — not just for her, but for everyone. Smith has a 6-year-old niece who follows her around and tries to do everything she does. She said she viewed this as “annoying” until she came to the realization that children are sponges.

“What they see is what they take in and form to,” she said. “Their surroundings mold them into the people they will be in the future. Those little eyes need to see some positivity, so if they see us making a change, they will want to make a change too.”

Smith hopes to see Little Eyes Are Watching become an official nonprofit organization one day. She said she will be proud to be able to say it started in her hometown of Bogalusa.

Smith said the camp’s theme is “An Ocean of Opportunities.”

“We want the campers to know that they have a broad span of new beginnings after high school,” Smith said.

Bogalusa resident Smith is a junior at Grambling State University. She said she’s in there while school’s in session and at home during the breaks.

A digital arts and mass communications major, she has a 3.49 GPA and is active in organizations such as Art Guild, The Society of Distinguished Black Women, Favrot Student Union Board and Tiger Dolls Recruitment. She is also in the Student Government Association, having served as Miss Sophomore 2013-14, and will be the 2014-15 junior class vice president.

Smith said campers can register on the day of the camp. There is a $10 registration fee.

For more information on the camp, Smith can be reached at 832-833-2583.