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Outdoor Ed Camp Builds Tomorrow’s Leaders

Continuity and growth were the two main themes of this year’s leadership camp, an important piece in St. Michael’s College School’s (SMCS) Outdoor and Experiential Education Programme.

This year, 58 Grades 9-11 students and 14 Grade 12 student-leaders participated in the three-day camp held at Camp Wanakita with ALIVE Outdoors.

SMCS Leadership Camp - Students canoeing on the lake

“The programme is now into its third decade and has evolved considerably,” says David Lee, vice principal. “The programme is now longer (three days), and rather than simply being another camp experience with some leadership qualities, it is now a Leader-In-Training (LIT) certification programme. Teachers and ALIVE staff deliver seminars and senior student-leaders deliver workshops in addition to the traditional camp experiences.”

Students have the opportunity to participate in camp activities such as canoeing, climbing, and hiking. More time is also dedicated to leadership-development activities such as scenarios and themed seminars and workshops. Activities are run with a leadership lens, and students are taught to consider how they would handle the activities as leaders.

“Through activities guided by ALIVE, I learned communication skills, cooperation, and good leadership qualities,” says Matthew Kmecz, Grade 11 student and next year’s SMCS student government president. “Workshops done by student-leaders allowed for a deeper understanding of the school and leadership programme’s values. Seminars run by some teachers also gave me time to reflect on the true meaning of what it means to be a leader, what it means to be a part of a brotherhood, and what we want our school to look like. These all contributed to my leadership camp experiences and helped develop the experience and skills I need to become a successful leader.”

SMCS Leadership Camp - Students at the top of a high ropes course

Students who complete their LIT certification training may then act as student-leaders during our fall and winter outdoor and experiential learning camps for Grades 7, 8, 9 students.

“I wanted to become a student-leader because I had two amazing leaders, Tobias Weiler and Andrew Miranda when I first went to camp in Grade 9 and as a camp leader in Grade 10,” says Luke Adorante, Grade 11. “I have gotten quite close to both of them through the leadership programme, senior band, and cross country, so I want to continue and pass on all that I have learned from both Tobias and Andrew.”

Unlike the other camp experiences offered at SMCS, students interested in attending the leadership camp must apply and be selected by the school’s Administration.

“Students must complete an application form in which they reflect on their leadership qualities and areas for growth,” says Lee. “Students must be in good standing with the school community. The students selected to serve as leaders in future camps would demonstrate strong leadership skills as determined by their senior leaders and programme facilitators.”

SMCS Leadership Camp - Senior students standing on the shore

“This was a super fun experience, giving me a chance to reminisce about how camp used to feel for me,” says Kmecz. “Small things like talking in the cabin before sleeping and sharing meals together reminded me about the true importance of camp. Bringing people together and forming the SMCS brotherhood. I am grateful that I got to experience that, both as a leader and as a camper again.”

Related links:

SMCS Outdoor and Experiential Education Programme

Mentorship and Leadership at SMCS

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