Neveah Orbe, 16, was recently recognized by the Family Safety Center and Camp HOPE America as the NFLPA Camper of the Year at a surprise presentation, attended by friends and family. The honor, sponsored by the NFL Players Association, recognizes a camper from one of its 50 affiliate organizations across the U.S. based on the camper’s leadership, ability to be a good role model to other campers and their ability to overcome adversity.
Camp HOPE is a national, year-round camping and mentoring program for children and teens impacted by domestic violence that focuses on creating hope and healing-centered pathways through collaborative, trauma-informed care. Karen Smith is the Camp HOPE coordinator at the Family Safety Center in Tulsa.
TK: How did you feel when you got the award?
Neveah: I was excited. We always have meetings with Miss Karen (Smith), and we do an activity. I thought we were going ice skating. We were all in a room, and I didn’t know what it was for. My family was there (including two brothers). My brother was trying to drop hints. He’s so terrible at keeping secrets.
TK: Tell me about going to Camp HOPE. When did you start?
Neveah: I was 8. The camp is in the summer, but we do activities throughout the year. I think it has helped me make friends. I never had any real friends, and it helped me understand what a friend was for. I learned what was right and what was wrong. It was really fun.
I didn’t get that a lot in regular life. I felt like it was a break from reality. Growing up, my mom abandoned us. It was hard, and we didn’t understand. My brothers and I took care of one another during difficult times. I’m so proud of my brothers. We all have a chance to break that chain of pain.
TK: What are your favorite things to do at camp?
Neveah: My favorite thing was hiking. There was a chapel at the top of the hill, and it was a really beautiful sight. We would go rock climbing and do archery. And I love tubing. At first, I was scared of the water, but I’m a really fast learner. I love hanging out after swimming, and at the campfire, making hobo dinners and s’mores. I love playing camp games like Capture the Flag.
TK: There are approximately 5,000 young people in 45 Camp HOPE locations across the U.S. You were chosen out of a group of campers nominated from the affiliates. What qualities do you feel made you win this honor?
Neveah: I’ve overcome adversity. I feel like a leader. I feel like people in my cabin would ask me about what I think is OK and what I think is right. I speak what’s on my mind about what’s right and what’s wrong. With the counselors, I would always be the one to ask questions – I think it’s just me being friendly.
I used to be bullied at school; I moved around a lot from one school to another. That switched when I went to camp. I learned more about what people like and what they don’t like. I learned my lessons there. I found all my friends at Camp HOPE.
TK: What was the main lesson you learned at Camp HOPE?
Neveah: It helped me embrace my good qualities and who I am. It gave me the ability to be a leader.
TK: What advice would you give to others about overcoming adversity?
Neveah: Put yourself first because it’s going to be hard. And reach out for help. I had Miss Karen to talk to. She listens to me and never assumes. Find someone who can understand and does not jump to conclusions or put words in your mouth. Miss Karen gives great advice.
TK: What plans do you have for the future?
Neveah: I just got my nail tech license. I’d like to do modeling and acting. I also love drawing and singing.
TK: What’s a fun fact about you?
Neveah: I sing a lot. I’ve been a K-pop fan since 2017.
Source Credit: Betty Casey, TulsaKids. See original article here.