Five Questions With: Elizabeth Beisel

Elizabeth Beisel is a two-time Olympic medalist and past captain of the U.S. Olympic swimming team. The Saunderstown native, along with RAW Elements USA founder Brian Guadagno, founded the Emerge Youth Life Skills Camps in partnership with the city of Warwick, Save The Bay Inc., the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, University Orthopedics Inc. and the Narragansett Indian Tribe. Beisel spoke with Providence Business News about the camps and what they will offer to local youths.

PBN: What was the impetus in launching Emerge Youth?

BEISEL: The motivation behind launching Emerge Youth Camps started when I was lifeguarding with my co-founder, Brian Guadagno, last summer. We would sit on the lifeguard chair and talk about our passions, one of which being a strong desire to help foster our [youths] into strong, confident and well-rounded people. We thought about how great it would be to expose kids to skills and activities [such as] water safety, situational awareness, confidence, breathwork, yoga and nature re-wilding.

PBN: What will the camps offer to local youths?

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BEISEL: Each Emerge camp provides an in-depth introduction to life skills and experiences that are typically neglected within traditional classroom environments. Our team has curated lessons around safety training (CPR, First Aid), water safety/drowning prevention, self-confidence, yoga and meditation, mental health and wellness, physical activity, interactive team building, and re-wilding in nature.

These physical and mental lessons will allow our [youths] to respond to situations calmly and expose them to the beautiful impact they can have on our world. Having fun and educating our [youths] is at the core of what we do at Emerge, and we hope to leave each camper happier, more confident and better equipped to take on anything life throws their way. Our [youths are] our future, and we fully believe in investing in them.

PBN: In what ways will the city of Warwick, Save The Bay, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, University Orthopedics and the Narragansett Indian Tribe help you as partners for the program?

BEISEL: All of our partners at Emerge have given us an incredible amount of support. It’s a beautiful blend of city, nonprofit, corporate and government programs all coming together to help impact our [youths] in a positive way. Each organization is going to bring something extremely special and educational to the table, exposing our [youths] to anything and everything from financial planning to saving our coastlines.

PBN: Given that communities are still rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, how will these camps help youths with overall wellness, both physically and mentally?

BEISEL: Studies show COVID-19 took an immense toll on our [youths]. Being without in-person opportunities for an extended period of time challenged our [youths’] mental health, situational awareness and interpersonal skills.

At Emerge, we want to help our campers leave with tools to help them deal with anxiety, mental health struggles, and ways to stay physically active and healthy. We want to help cultivate an environment where the kids feel comfortable opening up and learning something new that may allow them to be happier and healthier throughout their lives.

PBN: Will these camps be offered annually each summer? And where do you potentially see these camps expanding if they are successful this summer?

BEISEL: These camps will be offered each summer and we are looking to grow into more age groups. We also see a future where we offer more-focused camps – [such as] an elite athlete camp.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.