From September 22-26 I embarked on a journey along side ten other grade eights from my school across Canada to learn how to be a better leader. This conference was based at Camp Onondaga which is about three and a half hours north of Toronto. In this post, I’ll give a day to day look on what I experienced at this camp.
We arrived in Toronto and spent the night there. After our flight we went straight downtown to The Eaton Centre to have dinner and just chill out after a long day of travel. We went to sleep early, excited to arrive at camp the next day.
We started our journey in our minivans to the conference. We stopped in a few small towns for food, and finally arrived at the camp. We handed our devices to our teachers and started to get to know the people we would be spending the whole weekend with. By the end of that first night, I knew I had made friendships that I would love to last forever. We had one easy workshop that night called ‘The Leadership Disco’. It was to get us to understand that everyone can be a leader, when we were learning the disco steps you couldn’t always see the instructor so you had to watch your peers, and they had to be a leader to you with out even realizing it. That was our first step into our weekend of leadership.
We had two workshops on the morning our third day of this trip. The workshops were lead by a group of people from ‘Friendship in Action’ who taught us about the different types of leaders and how to run meetings with certain groups of people. After that we had three hours of camp activities. I did arts & crafts, ball hockey, and the high ropes course. We then went in for dinner. After dinner we had a presenter come in who talked about Aboriginal Education. We did exercises in which we had a problem that had to do with Aboriginal Education and we had to think of a solution. After our final workshop of the day we had a ‘Wacky Talent Show’ that everyone had to take part in. There were many different categories such as most pushups, best whistle, weirdest contortion, who can say the alphabet backwards the fastest, it was a very fun and entertaining night.
Day four of the trip was full of leadership. We had four different workshops; bullying, social media, sexual and gender diversity, and student mental health. During the bullying workshop we learned how to take a stand if we see someone being bullied, and how to shut down that issue. In the social media workshop we learned about our digital footprint, and how to use technology to promote good leadership. We talked about our values and how we need to always remember that when on social media. The sexual and gender diversity workshop was very interesting. We learned new vocabulary, read children’s books about this topic, and a lot more. I took a lot away from this workshop. Our last workshop was student mental health. We learned how to cope with someone who might not have strong mental health, and the correct use of words to use when comforting someone. This day was about learning more about the main issues that youth in Canada are facing. After these workshops we had another two hours of camp activities. I went on a zip line that went from the top of a mountain and finished in the lake, and also went canoeing. We closed the evening with a camp fire.
The dreaded day came when we had to say goodbye to all the new friends we had made across the country. We exchanged numbers, and all departed home. When we arrived home in Victoria it felt strange saying goodbye to the group of thirteen that I had spent the past five days with. We were our own little family at that point.
This trip was the best five days of my life. I learned so much about how to help my peers, and how to be a better leader. I met 105 new people from across Canada. The students that I travelled with from my school weren’t really in my circle of friends, but I’m more than glad that those were the circumstances because now I know each and everyone of these eleven people as a friend, and not just as that kid who’s in my English class. I feel like this camp changed me as a person. I wish it never ended.