In this blog post, staff member Jamie “Ro” Van Buiten and camper Lydia Ware talk about their experiences with LEAD (Leadership Education and Development), a two-week program for Explorer campers who have finished 10th grade and want to learn about leadership skills. Ro writes that during LEAD, “the girls are challenged in their beliefs about leadership as they learn and grow through activities, simulations, and discussion.” LEAD is the prerequisite for CILT (Camper in Leadership Training), Cedarbrook’s counselor development program.
It started for me with a simple question: “Would you lead the LEAD program?” It was not a question I expected this past summer, since I was hired to lead the wilderness trips. Nonetheless, I was excited to lead the program since I am very passionate about leadership. This passion began in high school and then grew in college, through my experiences in my Christian Leadership class and as a Resident Assistant and a junior high youth leader. After college, I took part in Camp-of-the-Woods’ Leaders in Further Training (LIFT) program. This semester-long program incorporates classes, small group, mentoring, work, and outdoor adventure into leadership and discipleship opportunities. This was a life-changing program that continued to mold my leadership skills and taught me a lot about being a Christian leader in today’s world.
The most important lesson that I have learned is that leaders are servants. This was the main lesson I wanted to pass on to the girls in the LEAD program, because this is the example that Jesus shows us about leadership. I wanted to be sure that the girls knew that the leaders are the not just the ones taking charge and leading in front of the group, but are also the ones serving in many different roles in the background. I believe that servant leadership is taught through example, so in the first lesson I had the girls play soccer barefoot, and after I washed their feet. Then, I had the girls look for servant leaders throughout camp, and they found that there were many servant leaders at camp! After this lesson, we continued to build on this idea of servanthood along with many other lessons of leadership.
If your daughter has an interest in growing as a leader, I would encourage her to explore our LEAD program. In LEAD we focus on not just developing strong leaders, but developing Christian leaders who will reflect Christ and the way he led.
Jamie “Ro” Van Buiten is a middle school teacher from Northern NJ. When she is not teaching or leading trips at camp, she is outside on an adventure or spending time with her family and friends.
I originally signed up for LEAD because I saw it as a necessary step for getting into the CILT program the following year. I later realized, probably because of my mother’s wisdom, that it would prepare me not only for camp leadership, but also for my everyday interactions with other people.
My two biggest takeaways from the LEAD program involved patience and communication. Incidentally, these were also the areas in which I feel that I grew the most. We learned about giving effective feedback, which really helped me to learn more about the way others see me while also learning how to let people know what they are doing well and what they can improve on. Learning how to give feedback also made me realize that patience is the best way to strengthen relationships with friends and peers.
Because we had a relatively large group (17 LEAD campers), every one of us was forced to think less about ourselves and more about our teammates’ feelings. From the very beginning of the Two-Week Experience (TWE), when we were tasked with conquering the wall in the challenge course, we learned very quickly that the only way to accomplish our goal was to listen to each other and not become dead set on what we wanted individually. My patience was tested, but in the end, this was a good thing for me as my mindset was reshaped for the better.
To anyone considering signing up for the LEAD program:
Definitely do it! Everyone in our class was different and had different ideas, and each person had something to learn. Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, no matter where you’re from or how many years you’ve been to camp, you will make friends in the LEAD program – and more importantly, you’ll learn more about yourself and how to be a good leader, following the perfect example of Christ, if you come in with a willing heart and mind.
LEAD was an excellent way for me to learn how to be more like Christ in the ways that I think about and treat other people. I loved all of the time that I spent with the other girls in the program, with Ro, and with other camp staff. I truly believe that camp is an incomparable way to immerse yourself in the love of God and develop your best qualities.
Lydia Ware is a junior at Averill Park High School. She has been coming to Camp Cedarbrook every summer for nine years. She loves being active and learning about God, so camp is one of her favorite places to be!