On October 17, the St. Mary of the Assumption Junior High went to a Leadership Workshop at Camp Lutherhaven in Noble County. The workshop was directed by Mr. Chad Helmkamp, a teacher at the school. It is annually held by the school in order to draw out the leadership skills from the future leaders present in the youth.
This year’s theme was one word: initiative. Mr. Helmkamp, in his preliminary speech before the students began their various activities, first asked the students how they would define the word. After he received some answers, he told them the Macmillan Dictionary for Students’ definition: “power or ability to originate something or take the first step or lead in an undertaking.” Then Mr. Helmkamp dug deeper into the meaning of the word when he outlined the four basic pillars of initiative: 1) You must step out of your comfort zone. 2) You must help others. 3) You must take safe risks. 4) You must complete what you begin. After planting this seed in the students’ minds, the youth were given an envelope containing an Apples to Apples card. Within a certain amount of time, the students were to arrange themselves into their own groups judging from what was on their card. When the time was up, if they were not in their correct arrangements, Mr. Helmkamp directed them to their assigned groupings.
With this done, each of the groups were told to go to a station where there was an activity run by a volunteer. Beginning inside the building was an activity where the group was split into two teams. On each team there were two signers, a communicator, a “blind” person, and a helper. On a table behind the helper were various objects including clothespins, a chess set, and dominoes in a box among other things. The signers were given a challenge on a slip of paper such as, “Have the blind person correctly set up the white chess pieces on the board.” The signers then had to figure out a way to, without speaking, communicate that to the communicator. The communicator would then tell the blind person and their helper what to do. The helper was then to help the blind person to do it without doing it for them.
The rest of the activities focused on teamwork. In one, the group was spilt up into pairs and trios to do several stations. One of those stations, for example, required that all the cards in a deck excluding the kings were to be blown off an upturned baking sheet. That required planning and cooperation of the people involved to listen and work together. The third activity included several projects, one of which was to get kickballs and soccer balls into a plastic bin without using your hands. At least one group accomplished that by having several people lie on their backs and lift the ball up between their feet and either drop it in or have another group member kick it in. The fourth activity was a game where the group was divided into two teams. Without crossing the center line, each team was to try to knock down their opponents’ pop bottles with balls. The challenge was that the team had to figure out how to both defend their own bottles and also knock down the other team’s bottles. The next activity consisted of the group again being split into duos and trios. Then each duo/trio would draw from a box a slip of paper that told them a body part such as the bottom of the foot. Then the duo would take a pop can and together transport it to another table with each person being allowed only to use that part of the body, but instead of being able to use (for example) both of their feet, each person could only use one. The last station was a blown up version of the peg game found in some restaurants, only the pegs were people. One person then needed to direct their teammates where to go in order to attempt to have only one person remaining.
At the end of the workshop, Mr. Helmkamp explained the stations, asked the students questions about the day, and gave quotes on initiative. After that, a picture was taken, and the students left on buses in order to return to school on time to get picked up for home. All of the faculty hope that they have taught their charges something that will last the rest of their lives. I, for one, as a student, am grateful to the staff, volunteers, and all those who made that day possible, because as long as I remember that workshop, I’m going to have at least one value instilled in me.
"Success comes to the person who does today what you were thinking about doing tomorrow."
"Initiative is what you do when no one is looking."
"If you can't feed 1,000 people, feed one." -Mother Teresa)