Saturday, August 11, 2007

Learning Leadership

By: Tyla Fowler

It’s hard to believe that the first week of campWISER is over! It has been so much fun and I think that all of the students are getting a lot from it. It is awesome to have a chance to teach the curriculum that all of us have worked so hard on perfecting and to see the students absorbing the information that we are trying to impart.

I know that I have learned so much this last week while teaching the leadership class with Kelly. We have done many activities with the kids to build teamwork, communication skills, self-confidence, and trust. Many of the activities and games we are using have been adapted from the camps that we went to as kids in America. It is so interesting that until now, I never realized that the games we play in America at camp build up so many of the skills that are important in building strong young people and encouraging leadership.

As a child, you do not think about the deeper meaning of the games that counselors teach you. The obstacle course that someone leads you through while you are blindfolded that teaches you to trust and demonstrates the responsibility of leading someone, the game of telephone that teaches you the importance of effective communication, the blind square activity where you have to work as a team to make a square out of a piece of rope while everyone is blindfolded that teaches you about teamwork. Working here as a counselor, I have had an amazing opportunity to begin to understand the importance of these games. It has become more evident because we are working with kids who have never had teachers or counselors to develop these traits in them.

Their progress over the course of the last week has been amazing. Before our eyes, many of the students have learned to communicate with each other effectively. More importantly, almost all of the students are showing huge increases in self-confidence. They are speaking more loudly and confidently. Those that were usually silent are now starting to share ideas. They are doing critical thinking about the things we are teaching them.

All of these things, which seem so basic to me because they have been taught to me all my life, are so important if we want these kids to be the leaders that will change the status quo. It has been wonderful to see these students grow as leaders over the last week. I never thought that our work here would be immediately evident or feel so tangible. But we are watching as these kids grow as people and become more confident in all of their abilities. We can only hope that the skills we are teaching them will translate into their lives here in Muhuru and that they will be able to utilize them in a meaningful way when we have gone. I also hope that they will take initiative and that their motivation will inspire all the students who were not able to attend Camp WISER to have more confidence in themselves as well. I hope that their confidence is infectious and that when the Duke team returns to Muhuru next summer, they will find an entire group of confident and motivated youth who are emerging as strong leaders in the community.

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