Several years of experience working in summer camps, a contract with Disney Cruise Lines’ youth activities department, and a coordinator position at the Please Touch interactive children’s museum in Philadelphia, helped prepare Joshua “Josh” Wescoat for his role as the Bangor Region YMCA’s Teen Center Coordinator. Josh plans and oversees programs and daily activities for teens aged 12-18 years, assists with homework, and offers support and resources for at-risk teens. “I help create a safe and fun environment for teens to socialize and grow as individuals,” he says.
Josh’s favorite reason for working at the Y is its sense of community. “I grew up in the backwoods of New Jersey,” he recalls. “You couldn’t see your neighbor’s house from your own, we didn’t have a downtown, and there wasn’t a whole lot that bonded the community together.” As a child, Josh wished he had somewhere to go when school was over. “The Y allows me to offer the youth of the area something I never had growing up,” he says. “I never had a place I could go after school to just hang out and socialize. It was either afterschool clubs or go home on the bus and your closest friend wasn’t exactly a short walk away. If your parents worked at night, you didn’t get to see friends.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for Josh. “About a year ago I lost my job in Philly due to COVID-19,” he says. “I had to move back in with my parents. My mother is immune compromised so I couldn’t really seek a job while living there for risk of exposing her.” A Y employee and former colleague let him know about vacancies at the Bangor Y. “I did some research on the Y and decided Maine might be a nice fit,” he says. “I emailed them my resume and here I am now!” No wonder Josh’s favorite quote is, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
The Y’s core value of Responsibility resonates most with Josh. “I think it’s the most encompassing value of them all, especially working with teens,” he says. “Helping them understand and learn how to be responsible for themselves as well as their community is a big step in making a brighter future.” Josh loves that the Y gives him the opportunity to be a leader for the next generation. “Ages 12-18 are some of the most formative years of your life. You really begin to figure out who you are. I get to help these teens grow into young adults that make the world a better place. ”
Mentors have played a significant role in Josh’s life. “I look back and realize I have been heavily impacted by adults who took on counseling roles for me growing up,” he recalls. “I still remember the names of my first camp counselors. I remember my 6th grade teacher who would teach me guitar during lunch. Those adults who work with kids and specifically go above and beyond in helping them learn who they are, those are the people that have impacted me the most.”
Most people might not know Josh has a degree in illustration. This means when he is not working, you will often find him drawing. He also has an innate curiosity about the world and is passionate advocate for the environment. “Maine is perfect because I like hiking and exploring so I often take day trips to remote points of Maine to see what they have to offer. Like I said, I did not grow up in a tight knit community so I love really seeing what that life is like here,” he says. “Not many people know how active and into nature I am. I love learning about nature and educating people on how to treat the Earth properly. I love the idea of working with nature and not against it.”