Earlier this week, St. Andrew's IV Form students spent an overnight at Camp Wabanna in Edgewater, MD, bonding, collaborating, and developing leadership skills. The students participated in structured games, engaged in each other's competitiveness, and cooperated with and listened effectively to their classmates. Dean of Leadership Ana Ramirez, assisted by faculty members Sam Permutt, Grace Saliba, Devin Duprey, Will Rehrig, Jason Kunen, Lindsay Roznowski, Matt Carroll, Viviana Davila, Lou Berl and Terrell Myers, led the group. The faculty did an outstanding job empowering the students by facilitating various leadership development activities. Viviana Davila, IV Form co-advisor, state, "It was quite rewarding for the faculty group to watch members of the class in ego-free interactions."
The program was designed for the students to understand the meaning of "leadership skills": It's not only about service for others, adaptability, accountability, responsibility or innovation, but about truly learning the importance of being patient and comfortable with one another through effective listening exercises. Students attempted to step away from their own perspective, to focus more on who was to their right and to the left of them; they also learned how to lead from the rear in order to let others shine. For example, students were placed in groups of 10 and provided various activities to give every student an opportunity to engage, connect ideas, share stories, and empathize fully. From the moment the students arrived at the campground, there was lots of class camaraderie, in addition to chances to explore the meaning of being a leader in different situations.
When not occupied with the program, students had unstructured time to play recreational sports such as basketball, tennis, volleyball, paddle tennis and much more. Others spent some quiet time enjoying the natural surroundings, journaling, or continuing with the conversations from our leadership training. Andrew Dupree '20 shared his thoughts about how this opportunity helped him and his class: "This retreat gave context to my relationships in a more forward–looking way by talking to people whom I had never really spoken to candidly. This helped me get a sense of how much I was missing not having as many relationships as I could within my Form." Andy provided a specific example of one of the activities: "In a particularly significant activity, everyone on my dorm (about seven guys) took turns having everyone say things that they truly appreciate about that person. This really helped me get a sense of how much I really do appreciate the little things and the quirks that everyone has. Between the new relationships and the strengthened-on leadership, the Form definitely became more coherent overnight."
At the end of the retreat, students took time to reflect, ready to embrace future leadership roles during their SAS tenure. As Miles Abney '20 stated: "Prior to the retreat, many of my classmates expected it to consist of boring bonding exercises. However, when leaving the camp, many said the experience exceeded their expectations by being super fun, relaxing, and motivational. Being able to escape the hustle and bustle of SAS really helped my class come together in a way that is difficult during our busy daily lives. Being able to not worry about classes, sports, and other commitments while also not having other classes around, really brought us together and allowed us to get to know each other on deeper levels than we had before." Although the students were tired by the end, everyone enjoyed the great energy of bonding together. As a community, students gained a sense of accomplishment from having all voices heard by their classmates. Overall, the IV Form has discovered that being disconnected from technology and participating in meaningful activities with one another allowed them to learn about the true meaning of leadership.