Spanning the past weekend from April 11 to 13, 60 Springfield College students retreated from campus to the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, N.Y. for the YMCA club-sponsored Leadership Summit. Nestled in the Catskill Mountains, the participants recessed from the bustling college life of the past eight months of the academic school year to hone their leadership skills.
“There is no cell phone service, there is no Internet connection. It’s one of the aspects that allow the participants to bond like they do; they don’t have the distractions of everyday life,” remarked student tri-chair Alyssa DeVivo. Along with fellow tri-chairs Jillian Funk and Zach Hartshorn, DeVivo orchestrated the planning and organization of this year’s Summit.
The trip itinerary included an Olympic-themed opening ceremony, 12 intensive workshops, and a tradition known as “the bigger game” to wrap up the weekend on Sunday.
Unlike other opportunities offered on the Springfield College campus, Leadership Summit need not be applied for. First- and second-year students at Springfield College, including transfers, are anonymously nominated to participate in the annual tradition.
“This is a really awesome event that allows emerging leaders who may not see potential in themselves to gain leadership skills to help them grow on campus,” explained Funk.
The tri-chairs were joined by a cast of 12 other upperclassmen who acted as facilitators this year – the event’s first year at the Frost Valley YMCA. The location was just one of many changes undertaken by the tri-chairs, who spent rigorous hours meeting two to three times a week since the fall semester to ensure a successful trip this April with some guidance from faculty advisors Harry Rock and Erin Friedman.
With past experiences of their own, facilitators ensured that this year’s underclass participants would have the same unforgettable experience they did.
“The weekend can be really emotional, and it can be deep for some people – for both participants and facilitators alike,” reflected Hartshorn after having experienced both roles. “Having the experience that we do, and the position that we do, we were the ones they could bounce those feelings off of.”
In just one weekend, unbelievable change in each individual occurred. By Sunday, the facilitators recognized a remarkable change in leadership qualities for many of the previously timid participants.
“What this program does is it allows you to find who you are, and what your purpose is,” added an awe-stricken Hartshorn.
Hartshorn, like many of the facilitators and participants alike, was taken aback by how much self-empowerment could occur in one weekend.
Despite a change in location from the Leadership Summit’s usual setting at the Silver Bay YMCA in Silver Bay, N.Y., Funk, Hartshorn and Devivo were able to lead facilitators and participants on a meaningful trip for all who attended.
It is safe to say that the collective goal of allowing students a chance to discover their true potential and bring new leaderships skills back for application on campus was more than achieved.