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Leaders-In-Training 2017, A Progress Report

Leaders-In-Training 2017 kicked off in May on the Ropes Course and, now, at the end of the summer, they are halfway through and rocking it. Our big theme has been leadership – picking up leadership skills (both soft skills and practical ones) through repeated opportunities to take challenges – but the gleanings outside of leadership are innumerable. Read examples:

  1. Sense of Belonging is strong: Every person has become a key component to the group. This group of young adults who didn’t know each other before the program are already becoming good friends. Texting each other, hanging out outside of LIT, and when one person can’t make an adventure due to a conflict, everyone notices and says how they miss that person. On one van ride, someone said “I miss Robert. He’s the funny one.” And everyone agreed. Another chimed in, “But Zach is the one who tells jokes.” And it was decided that these two had those roles. But then another, “I’m the one who likes cartoons.” and everyone laughed and agreed. Another said, “And I’m the one who’s into cars!”…a chorus of agreement. Each individual has a role – whether serious or silly that contributes to this team.
  2. Trust and vulnerability is evident: Every LIT is getting the opportunity to share their “Life Story” with the group. Each person gets the floor for 6 minutes, usually around lunch, and shares about their upbringing, a person they admire, and between 1 and 3 big life challenges or events that have shaped them. The response from the group is striking – every team member listens with care and asks follow up questions. You can feel a change in the group dynamic as people get to know each other more intimately.
  3. People’s big leaps are contagious: When one person really steps out of their comfort zone and challenges themselves, it makes others want to do the same. One young woman on our recent kayaking program was very nervous about being out on the water. She got to overcome that fear, but then was asked to assist in a “T-rescue” the process of getting someone back in their boat if their boat happens to tip over – a crafted scenario and not an emergency. She took on that challenge and later, the group was encouraging. One young man said he was inspired by her willingness to step up and do it even when he knew she was nervous. “It made me want to try something challenging too!”

There are countless more stories and exciting things that are happening on each program. Our lessons are taking an in-depth look at what a leader is and what they are not. I.e. Leaders look different; They are not always the ones who are the loudest, the ones in front, or the most confident in front of a group; They can be any one of us. And now we’re in the midst of looking at specific attributes of leaders. I.e. Leaders are caring, thoughtful, bold, willing to share about themselves, good listeners, and more.

Last weekend, our LITs got to practice their leadership skills with an authentic audience – STUDENTS who came to go kayaking (all between ages 6 and 12). Each LIT got a chance to practice their leadership skills – taking our group through a schedule for the day, giving specific kayaking instruction like how to put on a life jacket, keeping everyone feeling safe and happy, or just making sure everyone had on sunscreen and had full water-bottles. It was awesome to see them in their element and executing everything they had learned so far. Check out pictures of our last three adventures: a hike in the Blue Hills and two kayaking programs – one in Harold Parker State Forest, and one on the Charles River in Waltham.

6/25 Hike in the Blue Hills

Sara and Jessi (Volunteer) work together to support their team mate Sara
Jessi, Sara and Tessa are all smiles while posing for a picture at the top of the mountain!
Group picture at the top of the mountain. Beautiful blue sky’s and a view of the surrounding valley behind the group
Mike and Adam are helping Sara come down the mountain. Mike is in the front and has a big smile!
The entire LIT group is sitting around listening to Ryan tell his “life story”
Tessa and Adam are helping pull and push Sara’s chair and the rest of the group is behind them. Everyone is hiking down the trail through a beautiful sunlit forest.
Kristina is being a sited guide for Adam R. as they hike through a beautiful sunlit forest. Adam C., Sara and Mike are walking right behind them.
Adam, Sara and Mike are walking along the top of the mountain as they begin their descent. A view of the valley below them is beautiful and the sky is blue with white puffy clouds.
The group making their way across the rocky hilltop. Views towards Quincy and the South Shore are spectacular!
Adam and Kristina stepping carefully down the rocky descent

7/29 Kayaking in Harold Parker State Forest

Shayda and Chris partnered up to paddle together are getting their life jackets fitted correctly
Adam zipping up his life jacket while Sara F makes sure it fits right
Chris, Julia, Adam, and Sara F are in Group 1 – ready to learn about how to put on a life jacket, get in and out of a boat, and how to fit the boat to yourself
All the LITs partnered up and standing next to their boats listening to Adam talking about how to get in safely
The group paddle halfway across Field Pond and now take a break to eat lunch and a few will tell their Life Story
Sitting on a floor of pine needles eating lunch overlooking the pond and the pines
A description of our life story structure (1. tell us about your childhood, 2. Tell us about a significant person in your life, and 3. tell us about some major events that have shaped you)
Zach, Tessa, Robert, and Kristina in Group 2 learning about Paddle Strokes
Photo Jul 29, 12 19 27 PM
Adam and Zach’s boat getting the lunches packed in the hatch
Photo Jul 29, 1 51 59 PM
Adam Combs testing Group 3 on what they learned about paddle signals. If he points his paddle to the left bank, Sara Y is answering correctly… we should all paddle that way!
Sara Y and Robert’s kayak – all ready and on the water! Robert starts paddling away from the shore.
Photo Jul 29, 12 14 18 PM
A view from the shore of all the boats out on Field Pond. Big tall pine trees set behind a deep green lake with blue skies and wispy clouds overhead.

8/12 Kayaking with Students on the Charles River in Waltham

Photo Aug 12, 10 36 56 AM
Ryan and Zach are boat partners in the morning. They’ve got their life jackets on and they’re all smiles.
Photo Aug 12, 10 37 13 AM
Adam and Chris are boat partners in the morning. They’ve got their life jackets on and they happen to match outfits!
Photo Aug 12, 10 29 03 AM
Zach and Adam are helping Dan put tighten his life jacket straps in the parking lot.
Photo Aug 12, 2 02 29 PM
Adam and Eileen are paddle partners in the afternoon. Eileen is paddling the back and Adam is paddling the front. They’re on the water with a thick row of trees and blue skies overhead.
Photo Aug 12, 11 16 36 AM
Shayda and Dan are partners. Shayda is paddling in the back and Dan is paddling in the front. They’re long tandem, red kayak is just leaving the launch.
Photo Aug 12, 11 28 28 AM
Shayda and Dan’s boat are doing a T-rescue. Julia’s boat did a purposeful capsize and now they’re pulling the boat on top of theirs to turn it upside down and empty the water. Julia holds the front the rescue boat as she waits.
Photo Aug 12, 12 37 06 PM
Back on shore during lunchtime, Julia is talking about attributes of a leader and Tessa is adding her word to the board.
Photo Aug 12, 12 37 34 PM
A picture of the board: It says, “A leader is… encouraging, caring, helpful, open to challenges, willing to share about themselves, keep everyone safe, fun, and aware.”
Photo Aug 12, 1 10 41 PM (1)
Our students have arrived! We’re all standing in a circle and Zach is going over our schedule for the afternoon. The students are kids between age 7 and 12.
Photo Aug 12, 1 20 22 PM
4 students listening to Zach talk about how to adjust your footpads when you get in a boat. He’s sitting in the boat on land while the kids listen and crouch down next to him to see the foot pegs.
Photo Aug 12, 1 20 14 PM
2 students peak way down into the kayak cockpit down at Zach’s toes to see where the foot pegs are
Photo Aug 12, 1 28 16 PM (1)
Everyone helps bring a heavy tandem kayak down to the launch! Ryan, Josiah, Shayda, Ellen, Tessa, Chris, and Sam all lift the boat together.
Photo Aug 12, 2 01 10 PM
Josiah and Chris paddling together in the afternoon.
Photo Aug 12, 2 01 28 PM
Sam and Ryan are paddle partners in the afternoon. Ryan gives a thumbs up to the camera.
Photo Aug 12, 3 21 26 PM
Ryan and Sam back on land arms around each other – psyched that they got a great day out on the water.
Photo Aug 12, 3 21 15 PM
Zach and Natalie are back on land and arm in arm. They were paddle partners and had a great time too!
Photo Aug 12, 3 20 23 PM
A big group shot back on land with Josiah out in front holding a Goal of the Day: “to have a fun and safe kayaking experience!”
Photo Aug 12, 3 20 27 PM
A group shot again and everyone making silly faces