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Students learn to lead at Outdoor Education Center

LARKSPUR – Last weekend 165 high school students from across the Douglas County School District (DCSD) came to the Douglas County Outdoor Education Center (DCOEC) for a leadership training program like no other.
After 12 hours, the high school students are now ready to guide elementary students during their visit to the DCOEC this spring.
“It’s a win-win-win-win—all the way around for everybody,” said DCOEC Director Dennis Ingram. “To watch our high schoolers work with our elementary kids is nothing less than amazing.”
“We continue to be amazed at the caliber of our DC students,” added DCOEC Program Director David Ray.
The high school “leads” are each assigned to small groups of elementary students. Like summer camp counselors, the elementary students really bond with their older mentors.
“They’re closer in age, so the elementary kids are going to look up at those high schoolers to be a good role model and to follow their lead,” Ingram said.
They help the kids through the difficulties of camp, whether it’s support during challenging tasks or a hug because they’re missing mom.
“They are able to take care of our home sick kids and work with them. The kids forget about being homesick and they stay at the camp,” Ingram said. “We haven’t had one student leave because they were homesick.  That’s mostly due to our interns and high school leaders.”
Last fall the OEC staff trained about 80 high school students and they’re excited that the number of kids involved doubled this spring.
By participating, the high school students get 43 hours of community service, which they can put on their resume or college applications.
“That is a really big deal for some of the colleges, because they want to make sure that you are a well-rounded individual before you are accepted to their school,” Ingram explained.
It is also a benefit for the teachers and camp staff. By having the high school leads assist, they are able to provide more one-on-one attention to each student—allowing them to really cater to the student’s educational needs, while at the camp.
This winter a group of DC Oakes High School students had the opportunity to go a little further. They took part in an even more rigorous training and then were able to teach kids about winter survival at the camp.
"My kids have really stepped up and it really provides them with an opportunity they’ve never had, the opportunity to be mentors to these young kids, to be leaders," DC Oakes teacher Brian Woods said.
"It makes me feel good that I have such an impact on their lives," added DC Oakes student Blaine Casper. "I can really do something for them that they’ll remember later in their lives. Maybe they can take the stuff that we taught  them today and teach it to their kids and their kids will teach it to their grand kids, so on and so forth."
In August, the camp is planning to host another training for high school students who want to support the 2013-14 camps.  If you have a high school student that is interested, contact their school principal.
October 14, 2013 | By Anonymous | Category:

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