Sophomore Leadership Retreat

Sun, 2017/10/01

Second-year students at Illinois Tech have the opportunity to attend one of three different retreats hosted by the M.A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy throughout the year free of charge.  My weekend at the Sophomore Leadership Retreat at Camp Pretty Lake, Michigan, was an unforgettable experience.  While I was nervous about spending the weekend grouped with five people I didn’t know all that well, the fast-paced nature of the weekend's activities meant I didn’t have time for being self-conscious.  The activities we did ranged from basic teambuilding exercises to dramatically helping each other cross a series of pulse-pounding low ropes courses.  But the thing that struck me the most about the Retreat was the attitude of the staff.  Throughout the weekend, a staff member stays with each group and helps administer each activity.  While the word “leadership” might inspire thoughts of an army drill-sergeant or a take charge delegator, the staff at Camp Pretty Lake work hard to point out different styles of leadership.  While there’s inevitably someone in each group who stands out as the most vocal leader, the staff at Pretty Lake always discuss how each person fits into the group.  Sure, one person might have delegated the tasks, but someone else made sure everyone knew what they were supposed to do.  If you did something important that you thought might go unnoticed, you can be sure that the staff noticed.  As the weekend goes on, the staff becomes less involved in the debriefing sessions after each activity. By the last one, every person in the group is not only talking about what they learned about themselves, but pointing out the accomplishments of others in the group.  While over 80 students attend each retreat, the weekend feels like a personalized experience.  Everyone is given equal opportunities and feedback, and even if you think you know who you are as a leader and as a team member, you will come away from the Sophomore Leadership Retreat with a more comprehensive understanding of yourself. And although students can only attend once, you’ll have so much fun you’ll wish you could do it again.