Every year in January, more than 50 UNH students cut their Winter Break short and spend five days at Camp Merrowvista in Tuftonboro, N.H., and have the best week ever at this thing we like to call Leadership Camp. I’m sure you have seen the shirts around campus that read, “Best Week Ever!” and I’m sure you have asked yourself “What is that?” As a student who attended Leadership Camp this year, I’m here to give you all the in’s and out’s on what Leadership Camp is all about. It really is one of the best weeks ever. While it is hard to put Leadership Camp into words, and something that truly is an experience all in it’s own, I’m going to try my best to explain it to you. As Office of Student Involvement and Leadership website says Leadership Camp is a “five-day intensive leadership development experience that stresses the importance of critical thinking skills, emotional intelligence and the belief that leadership is a process that should be used to serve others.” As a student who attended this past January, I can tell you that is true. However, I am also going to tell you what I learned, which is ultimately what made it the best week ever, in my opinion. Here it goes:
1. I learned opening up to others teaches you more about yourself
While at camp, I learned that if I want to get the most out of an experience, I need to be open to all experiences. I need to give it my all. If you don’t give 100% of yourself to an experience you will not get 100% out of it. This is not something you want to just show up for — you want to be present. Opening up to those you’re around, and making the best of your experience will only teach you new things about yourself.
2. I learned that being a leader means sometimes you have to follow
You’re not always going to be the leader of the pack — and that’s ok. This is definitely something I learned at camp. Through my time participating in different activities, talking to new people, and just being there, I realized there are activities you can naturally take the lead on, and others where it’s ok to take the back seat. If everyone was a leader 100% of the time, it would be a lonely journey. Being a follower is not necessary a bad thing, it just means you recognize someone else may be more fit, at this time, to lead than you. Following is in fact a vital part to your journey as a leader.
3. I learned that there is strength in numbers
Leadership Camp taught me that being part of a big group doesn’t mean your voice won’t be heard. It means that you are going to accomplish and experience more than you ever would alone. Of course, working alone and doing things on your own is all well and good — but doing something as part of a team adds strength to your work. Working with a team means you have to focus on the team’s best interest, rather than your own personal interest, which is a great lesson for everyone and something important to experience.
Ultimately, it is safe to say that Leadership Camp is an experience like any other you may get at UNH. You are not going to learn what you learn at Leadership Camp, anywhere else. It is safe to say that everyone goes into Leadership Camp, leaves with a different feeling than when they came in. You come back to campus with 50+ new friendly faces to say hi to, new lunch dates, and people to spend time with on the weekends. These are people from different organizations, or maybe even your own, that you would never have known on this level, without this experience. I urge everyone to apply for Leadership Camp — you are hearing this from the person who applied for Leadership Camp after it had just been up for 20 minutes…so maybe I’m sort of biased, but still — apply. You will not regret going to Leadership Camp, that’s a promise. If you’re still not convinced check out this video of what past Leadership Camp attendees have to say: