OP-ED: Leadership weekend 2022


The photograph was taken by Charles Buckley, Clerk, at the Leadership Weekend retreat.

Charles Buckley, Clerk

On October 21, I attended the Leadership Weekend Retreat. The leadership weekend retreat is an annual yearly event meant to help students learn leadership skills and give them a chance to step outside their comfort zone, all while learning how to make a difference on campus.

The retreat took me and other students to a small summer camp just outside of Lowville, NY named Beaver Camp. Upon arriving at the camp, we were all split up into different cabins and moved our stuff in. Shortly after, we learned what the schedule was going to be like for the weekend.

I quickly found out that this weekend was not only a chance for developing leadership skills and breaking our comfort zones, but we had a real chance to have our voices heard. Part of leadership weekend was coming up with a proposal for something we want to change on campus. 

The first day was mostly used for settling in and getting to know each other through the use of icebreakers. That night, we were told we would be doing trust exercises with other facilitators for the leadership weekend as we would be testing our communication and teamwork skills through the use of rope courses they had in the open field area across from the camp. The trust exercises consisted of trust falls, lifting people up with cloth bands and general icebreakers that made us all interact with one another. This definitely made the experience more interesting as people began to interact more with one another and find out that all of us had some common interests.

The next morning, our group headed across from the camp and hiked up a hill toward the open field for about seven minutes. When we finally reached the open field, we were greeted by the facilitators as well as a log to walk across as a way to test our balance. After the log, our group was split into two smaller groups and we all were taken to do different activities available around the area. Activities included a low hanging rope course, a puzzle involving getting across nine platforms using only three wooden boards and trying to balance your entire team evenly on a log so that it isn’t dipping one way or the other. These small activities helped my team solidify how to properly communicate with one another and work as a team, it made for a very great and fun time.

After the smaller activities, it was finally time for the high rope courses they had mentioned the previous night. The high rope courses were definitely high– the courses were perched along the tops of telephone poles. The three high rope courses they offered were a rope bridge, a two rope tightrope walk, and a log suspended tightly and steadily by ropes, it was tied up so tightly that it wouldn’t move when you walked on it. Due to how still it was, it was no different walking on that log then it was walking on the one that was on the ground earlier that morning.

For the safety of all participants, everyone wore helmets and harnesses that were clipped to ropes so if anyone fell, they would be caught. We even had an experienced high ropes course person in our group attempt and succeed at going across the log blindfolded. It was one of the most astonishing sights I had ever seen.

That night, our group spent time by a campfire making s’mores, cracking jokes, and just overall enjoying each other’s company. Overall, this was a very pleasant experience and I encourage anyone to try this at least once while they can.

For more information on how to join Leadership weekend, contact Bethany VanBenschoten at her email [email protected].