Last weekend the MSU Leadership Institute put on another Leadership Summit. The Summit is a 24-hour overnight experience that helps to build leadership skills, have fun, and meet new people. This semester it was held at Yellowstone Alliance Adventures. There was an option to either stay in the cabins or to camp. The camper’s tent town was pretty spectacular. You can see a bit of it in the picture below.
The night that we arrived, we enjoyed a delicious meal provided by the owners of YAA; afterward we participated in a few fun, difficult, leadership activities. Then, participants had the opportunity to either go on a night hike, make smores by the bonfire, or swing dance. Music was provided by Backwards Dreamers, a local bluegrass band. They ended their set that night with a mash-up of Mumford & Sons and Macklemore.
Naturally, I chose to swing dance all night. It was especially fun because the participants were so diverse. Some of them were highly skilled, some of them had never tried any kind of swing dancing before, but all of them wanted to learn. Every few minutes someone would run up to my partner and I and ask to learn a new move. At one point, we had everyone out on the floor line dancing (even though we did the wrong dance for the song, oops).
The next day, we woke up bright and early for breakfast and headed out for the day’s adventures. My group started with a zip line through the trees. While we were there, we had a chance to discuss leadership with Brent Reinhardt, the Cantractor for Army ROTC at MSU. We then moved on to a ropes course with Josh Meyer; as a team, we had to navigate a ropes obstacle course. I saw a lot of innovation and creativity in my group at this station.
We also had the chance to hear from and work with Doug Chabot, the director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. Not only does Doug lead avalanche rescue, he is also an alpine climber and co-founder of a foundation (Iqra Fund) which strives to get education to young women in Pakistan. His class at the Summit was particularly interesting because he spoke of each different and specific type of leadership relevant to each aspect of his life. In avalanche rescue he must be authoritative and make quick, life or death decisions; as an alpine climber he must be more democratic with his team; in his social work he must be able to listen and communicate with patience. Those in Part II of his class were given scenarios from each of these situations; we had to discuss the situations and decide how we would resolve the conflict. Afterward, Doug told us what he did in real life.
By the end of the Summit I think we inspired a lot of people; at the least, we gave them a spectacular weekend, thanks in part to YAA and our awesome speakers. If you are interested in participating at a future Summit, the Leadership Institute holds at least one per academic year, so keep your eyes peeled for the registration form. You can also come into the office (SUB 187, in the basement of the Strand Union Building) to get your name and email on a list; we’ll send you information when the next Summit rolls around. And if you do attend a future Summit, just remember to watch out for bears.
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