Student government goes on leadership summit

Christian Ayers, Staff Writer

For the first time ever, student government representatives from each class got the opportunity to go to Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, MI and participate in a leadership retreat. The summit was meant to bring student representatives closer to one another and to teach them about effectively communicating, working together as a team, and helping each other get over “walls” so that they can become stronger leaders.

The day started at around 9 a.m. when they set forth on their journey to the camp from school. 

Arriving around 9:45, they then put their bags in their cabins. But, these were not the normal, decrepit, horrifying, and revolting cabins one might imagine. They were really “posh.” They had AC and heat, a fan on the ceiling, and indoor bathrooms (thank goodness).

Orientation started at 10:15 and their first task was a scavenger hunt. They split up into two groups: one group was focused on having fun while the other group proved to be more efficient. The goal of the scavenger hunt was to get to know the camp and to get to know one’s group members.

Christian Ayers
The student government representatives listen to instructions at camp orientation on May 28 in order to prepare for their day full of team bonding and leadership activities.

11:15: They had their first team building activity which was a marshmallow dodgeball game. This was a trust building activity where one partner was blindfolded while the other partner’s task was to guide them to the marshmallows and then tell them to throw the marshmallow at the other blindfolded participants. Then they participated in another trust building activity called the “weeping willow,” which involves a group of people surrounding one person who is blindfolded and passing them around, basically one long trust fall.

Christian Ayers
The student government reps play marshmallow dodgeball at a leadership summit on May 28.

12:30: For lunch, the reps indulged in chili and grilled cheese sandwiches which they gave a thumbs up.

1:30: They began their second round of team bonding activities with a 12 foot high wall that everyone had to climb over. The purpose of the activity was to get the reps to work together and to use the trust they built to get them through this tough obstacle.

Christian Ayers
On May 28, after defeating the wall during their leadership summit, the reps celebrated with a picture.

They then moved on to the tightrope activity. This was to help them learn to lean on each other (literally) to get farther when overcoming an obstacle. From the tightrope activity, they then went on to the spider web where the goal was to move everyone from one side of the web to the other through holes, but only one person could go through each hole, so they had to strategize as a team to move people through. This activity also helped to build leadership and problem-solving skills.

4:00: The reps went canoeing on Shavehead Lake and overcame obstacles that ranged from getting cold and wet and having to turn around halfway through the trip. 

5:30: For dinner that night, the reps enjoyed a food that most of them had never tried before: curry. Some of the reps didn’t like it, so they didn’t eat much, but student government sponsor Julie Tyrakowski, loved it. She ate as much as she could to make up for the reps who didn’t like it. The team was working toward earning a zero food waste award.

6:30-9: They had beach and swim time next and also started planning for homecoming. Let’s just say they are planning a blast from the past. That is all that can be revealed. 

9:00: They went to Mosquito Hollow and told scary stories and made popcorn.

10:30 It was time for lights out.

Day 2

They were supposed to wake up at 7:30; however, the guys did not. They didn’t wake-up until between 8:00 and 8:30. 

For breakfast, they indulged in an assortment of fruit, french toast, and sausage. After eating and getting their energy back, it was time for them to take on the day.

9:15: It was time for them to try their hand at archery. Thanks to Janie Boyden’s PE class, the reps were prepared. Retrieving the arrows was the worst part.

Christian Ayers
The reps attempt to pass Junior Zach O’lena from one end of the line to the other during their leadership retreat on May 28.

10:15: After shooting some arrows, they went down to the beach and went canoeing and kayaking. Some of them got to witness turtles sunbathing on the rocks.

11:15: More homecoming planning had to be made.

12:15: They then headed to the lodge to eat lunch.

1:30: Their trip ended and it was time to head back to Elkhart Memorial.