On February 1, a group of 27 diverse student leaders boarded a school bus headed towards Woodstock, Connecticut for a weekend full of leadership “construction.” Among the 27 student leaders, there were representatives from Third World Alliance, Pride Alliance, Student Event Committee, Senate, Residence Life, Orientation, 2014 Class Committee, Book Club, Knitting Club, and Woman’s Forum.
As the students arrived at the facility, they were greeted by the trip’s staff facilitators: Tim Sullivan (Student Center/Student Activities), Kristie McNamara (Student Center/Student Activities), Mandi Kuster (Student Center/Student Activities) and Josh Katz (Residence Life). The facilitators had prepared for the student leaders a construction-themed weekend—inspired by all of the current construction projects on campus. A series of presentations and team builders were planned that were designed to improve each leader’s understanding of their own personal leadership skills and their interactions with other student leaders.
The retreat began with name-games, and it was instantly clear that this group was comfortable taking down barriers and letting their personalities shine through. After the initial familiarization, the group was given team-building challenges that became progressively more difficult throughout the weekend. On the first night, they were broken into five groups, and it was here in these groups that they were challenged the most. With their groups, they had to use their creativity to devise a group identity that included a construction company name and slogan.
Then throughout the weekend, the groups competed in trivia, put together puzzles while blindfolded, solved mysteries, built a helicopter and, most importantly (following suit with the construction theme), created the blueprints for a student center. The weekend also allowed for group-bonding challenges during which all the leaders were able to work together as one cohesive group. Beyond completing these group-bonding tasks, the student leaders took advantage of the opportunity to really get to know each other; to take a moment to see someone as more than just an acquaintance or just the secretary to another student organization on campus. They spent time getting to actually know each other and to appreciate each person’s leadership strengths.
When the end of the trip came on Sunday, February 3, the same group of 27 diverse student leaders boarded the school bus back to WSU. However, on the way back, each student was equipped with new perspective—and of course, new leadership tools for their toolboxes.
Beyond the Classroom
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