Why Campers Become Leaders
One of the things that Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake is best known for is its ability to shape leaders to go out into the world and become good stewards. CW has a vibrant LifeWorks Leadership Program for high school students. Each summer, campers learn more about what it means to be a leader on God’s beautiful earth. We asked our current LifeWorks campers with leadership positions in their hometowns to talk about how Camp Westminster has influenced their leadership choices at home, church, and school. We’ll be spotlighting campers throughout the year. Our first camper is Sara!
What leadership position(s) do you hold and how did you get there?
The main leadership position that I hold is as a captain of the rowing team at my school. To apply to this position, I had to explain why I felt that I deserved to be captain. I believe that I got to this position by working hard throughout the prior 6 seasons of rowing and helping out whenever I could. I went to every single practice, only missing a few for required choir concerts. In addition, I volunteer to help at Learn to Row camps that we ran in the summer and attended multiple summer programs and our winter conditioning that was offered. I think that by showing this dedication to the team, as well as my willingness to help out others helped me to get to my position as captain.
You’ve been through the LifeWorks Leadership Program at Westminster, which means you’ve spent 3 summers learning about what makes a good leader. What was the most valuable thing about leadership that you learned at camp?
The most valuable thing that I learned through the LifeWorks Leadership Program at camp was definitely how much younger children look up to you as a role model. Whether the kids are in elementary school or just a year or two younger than you, they are learning from everything that you say and do. This is a very important thing to learn, as kids pick up on everything, not just the good behaviors. As a leader you should always be setting an example and be willing to help those who are younger with understanding what is appropriate or any questions that they might have.
How did you apply this in your leadership position now?
In rowing I always make sure to encourage my teammates to help out rather than just standing around when work needs to be done. While in the boat, I try to set a good example by not talking during the practice and focusing on the task at hand. I always am willing to teach the new freshman or anyone how to do simple tasks like tying down a boat, so that they hopefully can use that knowledge to help the team and others out in the future after I leave. I have learned that while you want to be nice all the time, sometimes it is necessary to be a little bit strict in order to get the job done.
When you think of a good leader what qualities do you think of?
I think that a good leader needs to be hardworking, mature, confident and approachable. The best leaders that I have known are also great teachers and are open to help in any way possible. While a good leader should follow the rules and set a good example, they also should be able to have fun and be friendly while doing so. A leader should also be respectful to those that they are leading, in order to gain that same respect back. Lastly, leaders should be creative, as you never know what challenges you may face in your position, and you need to be able to work around them quickly and effectively. I believe that all of these qualities are important to be a good leader and counselor, especially in a job where you are leading children who are looking up to you.
What advice would you give younger campers just starting their journey in the Lifeworks Leadership Program?
Have fun but also take this experience seriously and with an open mind. It is an extremely valuable opportunity to grow as a leader and also in your faith, and is a great preparation for future jobs, potentially even as a counselor. Being a leader isn’t always fun and games, but there are so many lessons learned throughout the process that you should take with you throughout the rest of your life. This program brings together people who all want the same goal of becoming strong leaders, so work together and build off of each other’s strengths and help each other to become the best leaders that you can be. Finally, listen to and learn from your own counselor’s experiences and personal knowledge, as they have a lot of valuable information to share as a leader themselves. They know what worked for them and what did not, so they can help you learn how to best approach your future leadership positions in the best way possible.
We thank Sara for sharing with us her experience at Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake. We’d also like to thank all of the Camp Westminster staff and its supporters who have made stories like Sara’s possible.