By Cait Kemp
Once a year, Springfield College’s Leadership Training Conference (LTC) takes a group of students away on a trip, typically the weekend before Thanksgiving Break.
For the most part, that is all that’s revealed about the opportunity. LTC is a unique experience for students to immerse themselves in a setting without knowing what they are getting themselves into. That can be a scary concept, but many students apply each year in hopes of being chosen for this once in a lifetime experience.
LTC is described by its E-Board members as “an introspective experience to participate in activities, conversations and thoughts that someone may never imagine themselves doing.” It is somewhere that people go to find their true selves. It’s an inclusive, loving space where students will get out as much as they put in.
There are no words to describe it, according to E-Board member Maggie Donahue, and most everyone who has participated says that it has changed their life.
LTC can be difficult to take the step to do something that is so unknown. It can be intimidating and vulnerable, but that’s the point – being vulnerable and true to yourself..
“Everyone gets so many things out of [LTC] for so many different reasons,” said E-Board member Tyler Olds. “The only thing we want them to get out of it, is what they end up getting out of it. There is no expected or desired result, it’s just however they receive it and walk out with it.”
The facts that are known about LTC are that it is led by Angela Veatch – who is Springfield’s Associate Director of East Campus and Outdoor Programs – as well as a group of student E-Board members. The E-Board consists of Olds, Donahue, Emma Raccaro, Ally Toppa, Kyle Johnson, Nathanael Tejeda and Simon Hauser. These students have all experienced LTC as participants, and loved the program so much that they wanted to be a part of creating that feeling for others.
During her freshman year, Raccaro had different peers within the community tell her that she should apply to LTC based on her personality and interests shown on campus. That was the first time she was introduced to LTC and that it could potentially be of interest to her.
“It’s definitely intimidating walking into something unknown, because all these people come up to you and are like ‘there’s this really great thing on campus, I think it would be great for you, maybe you should try it,’ and you go, ‘okay what is it,’ and they say, ‘oh I can’t tell you,’” Raccaro said.
“These people that I care about and look up to are telling me that this is something that is good for me. I just have to learn to trust them, even though I don’t necessarily know everything that is to come.”
The application for LTC contains a different set of questions each year where students are asked to reflect on different aspects of themselves and their life. The application is completely anonymous, encouraging students to be candid and genuine with their answers.
Students can apply for the first time as participants, and those who have experienced it before can apply as returners.
“Each year, even though we have [first-time and returning] people that go, it remains a secret beyond just that year, because we want everyone to have the same first-time experience going,” Raccaro said. “If someone were to spoil it and you knew what was coming ahead of time, it wouldn’t really do the same. That is why we really only allow people to talk about how it made them feel. They can speak on personal growth rather than exactly what stuff we do there.”
LTC is not just about leadership training, despite the name. It involves conversations that dig deeper than the ones that are typical around campus, allowing individuals to talk about aspects of life that they otherwise might keep to themselves.
“I feel like Leadership Training Conference is kind of a deceptive name,” Olds said. “Yes, people have their own ideas of what leadership should be… but it revolves around the fact that you can’t be a leader until you know yourself better. You can lean into your own strengths and inspire others that way.”
The main purpose of LTC is to go into it with an open mind. It is very customizable to each individual, and leaves many things up to interpretation. LTC functions through the students’ willingness to create an environment where they are able to connect with themselves and each other at a level that may not be possible without the culture of the conference.
“Another thing that we like to say is that as facilitators we don’t create the conference, we just create the space. The participants themselves, they are the ones that are making the conference,” Donahue said.
LTC hosted an information meeting Wednesday evening to hand out applications. If you missed the meeting and want to apply, pick up an application at the Student Activities Office in the Union. Applications can also be dropped off at the office, and are due Oct. 6.
Photo courtesy Emma Raccaro