Residential camp provides a unique opportunity to allow young people to develop their leadership skills. When girls attend Camp Runoia they have an opportunity to not only develop hard skills in activity areas and interpersonal skills but also to begin developing strong leadership skills. Leadership starts at an early age at camp as adults often allow girls room to try out their skills and begin to develop their own sense of autonomy. As their time at camp extends into their teen years older girls become mentors to younger campers, leaders of teams, assistant coaches in activity areas and communicators in their shack groups. Some of this leadership development is organic while some is intentional youth development through our Camp Runoia programming.
The Counselor In Training(CIT) and subsequent Junior Counselor (JC) programs at Camp Runoia help High School aged campers focus on their own leadership development within the safe and supportive community in which they have often spent many summers. Feeling comfortable and confident in a place that you know well is a perfect environment for challenging yourself.
Intentional leadership training provides opportunities for girls to build on their current skill set and also challenge themselves to go out of their comfort zone and try new skills too. It includes formal training certification programs like archery instructor, lifeguard, first aid, CPR courses and the Junior Maine Guide programs. Event planning and implementation for large groups is a big component for the CIT group- they manage the entire 4th of July festivities for the whole camp. Helping out in shacks with younger campers, assisting in lessons and learning to manage a group, teach skills and keep track of performance are all just examples of putting leadership into action. More informal opportunities exist when hanging out with younger girls and being a positive role model.
Within the CIT group leadership often comes in the form of collaborative decision making and group process. It may be about finding your voice or learning when to be quiet to let someone else speak up.
Both the CIT and JC programs are designed to be a full summer experience so that young women can practice their new skills over time and grow into great camp leaders. They take back home with them not only a stack of certificates and accomplishments but a greater sense of self, more confidence and skills that will be transferable into other aspects of their lives.