Several students have had opportunities recently to attend leadership camps. Freshman Aidan Singleton and junior Allen Kruer attended RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) program at Bradford Woods in Morgan County, Ind., sponsored by the Rotary Club of Clarksville. Sophomores Zach Applewhite, Dallas Bonnet, Brayden Gronotte, Kadie O’Bannon, and Aidan Welch attended the Student Leadership Program at the Fatima Retreat Center in Indianapolis, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Juniors Landon Kruer and Nicholas Hooper, who attended SLP last year, went as youth leaders.
Aidan and Allen said they enjoyed their experience at RYLA, which is an intensive leadership experience sponsored by local Rotary clubs to develop young leaders’ skills and basic networking in a fun environment. Many of their activities were outdoor team-building activities, and they both said they learned a lot.
Aidan said he felt that he came back having improved his listening and public speaking skills, and the skills he learned will help him be “a better student, listener, and friend.” He also strengthened his self-confidence.
“I learned that I can do anything I put my mind to,” said Aidan, who is in the House of Justice and involved in theatre, Quick Recall, Providence Singers, Pro-Life club, and Pinterest Club.
Allen said he wanted to attend because he wanted to improve his leadership and communication skills, and the camp helped him do that. He most benefited from working on effective communication skills.
“When I had an idea for a particular activity, I had to effectively communicate it to the group so that everyone knew their role and what they were doing,” Allen said “It also helped me realize that a good leader must relate with their team, so that the team feels more comfortable following instructions and has more fun completing them.”
Allen, who is in the House of Truth, on the Quick Recall Team, and plans to run Track this spring, also said he benefited from the friendships he developed so quickly.
“I learned just how close a group of people who had never met each other in their lives could come in just a few hours,” Allen said. “The activities promoted teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership skills that everyone got to experience together.”
The sophomores who attended the SLP retreat said they enjoyed learning specific leadership skills.
Aidan Welch, who is the sophomore delegate for the House of Justice and on the Boys Soccer team, said he learned that leaders must have a degree of humility.
“I learned ‘Don’t take the credit but take the blame,’” Aidan said.
Brayden, the sophomore delegate for the House of Humility and member of Honor Council, Bowling Club, and Quick Recall, said he liked how the retreat tied in the spiritual aspects of being a leader.
“I became closer to God and learned how Jesus was leading in his life,” Brayden said.
Zach, who is on Honor Council, Swim team, and Boys Tennis, said he learned that leaders need to be good listeners and to lead by example as Jesus did.
“You need to go through the actions, not just tell them what to do,” Zach said.
The senior girls organized it and raised money by buying shirts (that were up charged $5) and also donations of parents. We donated to The Lyme disease association.
Dallas is in Honor Council, Girls Tennis, Book Club, Quick Recall, and Drawing Club and with her horse is involved in dressage competitions through the Stonehurst Riding Club. (And recently won her first regional title in Arabian Horse Association Region 14.) She said she liked learning what makes a Christian, or servant, leader different than just being a good leader.
She particularly liked the feet washing activity, which recalled Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. The junior leaders washed the feet of the adult leaders, and the small group leaders washed the participants’ feet.
“It was moving because it drove home that point of why Jesus washed the feet of his disciples,” Dallas said.
Kadie, who is in Girls Golf, Bowling Club, Dive team, Softball, Spikeball Club, Pinterest Club, and Drawing Club, and sophomore delegate for the House of Loyalty, agreed that the retreat went beyond improving one’s leadership skills.
“It truly changed my life as cliche as that sounds,” Kadie said. “I really just grew in my faith and met amazing people who are interested in the same things as me. It helped me branch out of my comfort zone more and relate to more people as a leader.”
She also learned to improve her skills in adapting to different situations, which will help her be a better leader “because I know how to find things in common with them.” Now, she wants to apply what she learned and work on creating a culture of inclusiveness.
As a group, the students want to bring back the theme of “Pack the House,” which gets the student body more engaged in extracurricular activities.
Landon and Nicholas said they wanted to return as leaders to help others have the same positive experience they had.
“It made a difference in my life, and I wanted to make a difference in others’ lives,” Landon said.
Landon was a small group leader and enjoyed having a direct impact on the participants and their experience.
“I helped them become better leaders by explaining my experiences from the retreat, how they can learn from the retreat and each other, and how they can bring what they’ve learned back to their school to benefit their fellow students,” Landon said.
He also liked the contrast being participating and leading.
“The retreat was different as a leader because instead of being served, we were the servers, giving light to other students,” Landon said. “I enjoyed the fact that I was able to help others meet new people, but most importantly find God. I feel my leadership skills did improve as well, because I learned how to better connect with those students who I was around during the retreat.”
Nicholas was the junior sacristan, meaning he went “from group to group to help with their projects and generate ideas.” That way, he got to work with each of the participants in some capacity. And see their skills grow.
“As the retreat went on, it was interesting to see the kids begin to lead in their own way,” Nicholas said. “Although we all come from different schools and are fresh faces to most, it’s a truly amazing thing to watch everyone grow closer together by the end.”
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