Snowshoeing helps students gain leadership skill.

Published: Clarion Newspaper, February 20, 2013  

The winter cold is no reason to crawl into bed and do nothing. Many winter activities are offered to Madison College students. On Feb. 10, the Student Life Office combined snowshoeing with a fascinating adventure to give students the opportunity to learn about team building in a very fun way. But is it possible to “walk like a penguin” and explore leadership skills at the same time? Amy Climer, personal trainer, and participating students shared their experience.

According to Climer, the purpose of the program is to prepare students to work with their community in real life. Everyone is a part of a community, either through their school, club, workplace or neighborhood, and having people skills is important to become a good leader. “Whether you are a supervisor top leader, or you just an employee, you still can be a leader,” Climer said.

Before they started the journey, each participant wrote their expectations on a little stone. They listed “trust, acceptance, tolerance, listen, care, initiative.”

“After we know each other and we talk to each other, let’s talk about what we want from a group. I think it’s important to let everybody has opportunity to share,” Climer said.

Snowshoeing itself requires no specific skills like skiing and snowboarding. It can be enjoyed anywhere as long as there are trails or open spaces to explore. Most of the participants never snowshoed before, so they were excited. Even thought it was raining all day, 13 students still came out.

When the participants gathered on the bus, Climer had them sit in pairs and gave each of them two questions to ask. It was a good start to know a little about each other before they worked together as a team. Some questions made people talk about their experience in previous teamwork and others called on people to share that perspective on friendship. “If you do know that basic information, you will want to know them further. And not only in a surface level but you really want to know who they are; what are their strengths, what are their weaknesses, what are they passionate about,” Climer said.

One of the games was a snow-sculpture competition, where all participants were divided into three groups and competed with each other to build the tallest sculpture. The results themselves were creative: A wolf, a snowman hugging a teddy bear, and a tall snowman named Sears Tower.

“We planned to make a wolf from the beginning,” Chenoa Anhalt said. “We didn’t know that it should be a high sculpture. But we decided to not change our plan. So we just made it look good,” she added. As a result, the snowy wolf looked like Madison College’s mascot.

Students on the leadership retreat
 learned valuable teamwork skills.

Photo Credit: Sylvia Lim
“It’s really important to set a goal,” said Yakuba, a student who’s involved in Madison College Student Senate when sharing his experience while building “Sears tower.”

“I enjoy meeting people. For me it’s a lot of fun.” Misty Pulcine, a liberal arts transfer student said. “I like people here. They come from many different countries, have different personalities and are of different backgrounds. What makes it great is everyone is so different.”

“When you’re doing activities together where many different people are involved, each of their personalities will come out. That’s a great way to learn about each other. So people start monitoring their own behavior,” Climer said.

Finally when the journey was over, Climer held an evaluation about team building on the bus.

“It’s like a pyramid. The foundation actually is trust. You have to build trust with the people you’re working with, or it’s not going to work. The next step is the ability to handle conflict. After that, commitment, accountability and the most important, set a goal,” she said as she showed the pyramid of teambuilding to the participants.

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