Leadership by Design camp emboldens high school students

savwilliams@tidewaterreview.com

High school students were asked Friday to consider what makes leaders effective.

Is it an ability to invoke inspiration, confidence, selflessness or another characteristic?

This is the second year the college has hosted the summer camp designed to train and encourage high school leaders in the mechanics of guiding their peers.

Caroline Ott, the program director, said this year exceeded all her expectations. The program grew from 11 students last summer, to 35 students from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina last week.

"A few of our goals were just to create a community and give these high school students a sense of community outside their high school or soccer team," Ott said. "To give them some connections of like-minded people and also to let them grow in whatever ways they needed to grow this week. We really rewrote the curriculum to include a lot of different things, so students could really get what they needed out of it, and I think the presentations showed that really well."

The students echoed Ott's confidence in the camp's ability to form meaningful relationships.

"All the people that are here are really passionate," Joey Colon, 17, said. "When you're at high school, you don't see this many as-focused people, so when you're surrounded by a bunch of them, everyone's just uplifting each other, and it's just really good vibes."

Colon said he was excited to be taking new tips on public speaking back to The Potomac School in McLean, where he will be an emcee and lead several clubs during his senior year.

"I'm going to need to be able to get people to work together, and especially in high school, just getting people to not disagree, not to fight, and to keep everyone on the same page at once," Colon said.

His teammate Violet Bishop, 17, said she will also be use the skills she learned to help lead her high school's investment club, environmental club and student government.

Both students presented on the importance of ambition in an effective leader.

"Going back to school and being able to start clubs, and bringing what I'm really passionate about into other people's lives, is definitely going to be something I'm really excited to do," Bishop, a rising senior at Carolina Friends School in Durham, North Carolina, said.

Bishop said she most benefited from the presentations of the week's guest speakers. William and Mary's Marcy Shankman, coauthor of "Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: A Guide for Students," and Will Morris, the founder and CEO of EdConnective, an organization that aspires to refine teachers' leadership skills, were among the visiting speakers this week.

Ott said of all the changes she witnessed living in the dormitory with the campers this week, their boldness made her most proud.

"I think a lot of it was shown in self confidence. Sunday was a very quiet day in the residence hall, and last night was a very loud night," she said. "I saw a lot of individuals becoming friends that might not be happening in a normal high school setting. The biggest change I saw was in their open-mindedness and self confidence."

Ott said she was glad the program took the time to increase the rigor of it's schedule, and she was looking forward to reading the campers' surveys to better plan for next year's camp.

"They each took something a little different out of it," Ott said.

Williams can be reached by phone at 804-824-8289.

Next year's Leadership by Design

More info: wm.edu/offices/sel/leadership-by-design/index.php

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