Students learn the ropes at Future Leaders Camp

rappelling towerBarely 16 hours after arriving on campus, participants in Session I of Norwich University's Future Leaders Camp (FLC) were rappelling off a 60-foot high tower, supported by a thin rope and a thick dose of confidence. Now in its fifth year, the Future Leaders Camp takes highly motivated teens to the next level of leadership development while providing a fun and worthwhile camp experience.

Young, eager, and numbering 76 in all, this year's campers hail from 21 states and the District of Columbia, and even include one camper from Korea! Participants are assigned to a ten-member team, with each team member having an opportunity to hold the position of Team Leader at least once during the camp. Despite the diversity of their backgrounds, the campers quickly learn how to work together.

"The kids have bonded instantly with each other," said counselor Stephanie Tavss, "It's amazing how they bring everything together."

Utilizing a combination of adventure training, group discussions, and hands-on training, the goal of FLC is to instill the basic principles of small group leadership techniques, ethics, effective communications, problem solving and teamwork, while developing in each participant a sense of confidence, self-respect and self-discipline. It also functions as a recruiting tool.

"While the camp has always operated with an eye on attracting prospective students, this year it has narrowed its focus even more as a recruiting tool," said Skip Davison, an admissions officer who is Norwich's Director of Corps Recruitment and chief administrator of the FLC. Traditionally the camp has been open to anyone - the difference is that now it is specifically targeting the college-bound student who has demonstrated leadership qualities. "The key is getting them here. Once we have them here on campus, there is a much greater chance that they will have an interest in applying to Norwich," Davison said.

counselor assists on rappelling towerPeter Harrington, who will be a senior at Medfield High School in Massachusetts this fall, in some ways represents the typical camper: He hails from a military family, is interested in the service, and is planning to apply to Norwich's Criminal Justice Program. In other ways he does not. An only child, he had never been away from home for more than a week before and was a little homesick his first day.

"It was hard at first," Harrington admitted. "The hardest part of the camp was conquering my fears." That was where the FLC staff stepped in. "The guidance from my counselor [John Swierat '05] really helped me," Harrington said. "I overcame my fear of heights on the obstacle course, because he went up with me."

Harrington feels that regardless of what direction his future takes, he will be better prepared as a result of having attended the FLC. "I feel like I've grown - like I'm better than I was before," he said.

Session I, which began July 6, runs for two weeks, with a second session beginning July 20. Applicants must be a rising, sophomore, junior or senior in high school and be in good academic standing. Additional information may be found at www.norwich.edu/flc or by calling the FLC Office at 802.485.2531.