UC retreat inspires young leaders

16 February 2011

Sixty-five of New Zealand's brightest young students took part in the second UC Emerging Leaders' Development Programme (ELDP) retreat last weekend and had a blast.

Sixty-five of New Zealand's brightest young students took part in the second UC Emerging Leaders' Development Programme (ELDP) retreat last weekend and had a blast.

The students - all recipients of UC Emerging Leaders' Scholarships - spent three days learning about leadership styles and skills, familiarising themselves with the campus and testing their limits at Adrenalin Forest.

The University introduced the programme last year as a way of helping prepare tomorrow's leaders by giving them the necessary skills and experiences. This year's retreat programme kicked off on Friday night with a welcome dinner at Rochester and Rutherford Hall. On Saturday the students headed to Adrenalin Forest where they got their blood pumping and confidence soaring on the multi-level aerial obstacle course.

Back on campus the students buddied up in teams to zip around campus in the UC Amazing Race before relaxing at a barbecue dinner. On Sunday the students attended lectures on leadership presented by programme coordinator Lane Perry and Engineering Management Director Piet Beukman and further explored their leadership potential with a Strengths Finder 2.0 session with PhD candidates Arthur Atkinson and April Perry.

Emerging Leaders' Programme Coordinator Lane Perry said this year's retreat had been a "fantastic success".

"The best part about having the ELDP retreat every year is that you can learn from the previous experiences and let the lessons learned transform the next year's efforts. Each year the programme gets stronger, more experienced, and consequently more valuable and influential for the students involved.

"The high points of the retreat, for me, ranged from witnessing friendships being built right before my eyes, seeing last year's ELDP members interact with the new members, and not only watching, but helping the ELDP members understand their strengths as leaders, learn more about their perspectives on leadership, while encouraging them to continually reflect on their leadership experiences."

Ex-Shirley Boys' High student Tim Bain, who is enrolled to study for a BA/LLB this year, was one of the emerging leaders taking part in the weekend's programme. Tim said "awesome" was the one word that summed up the weekend.

"I've been to a few similar retreats before, but this one was by far the best."

Tim said the Adrenalin Forest and UC Amazing Race were "the best" kind of icebreaker activities and a lot of fun and he found the Strengths Finder and leadership speeches "far surpassed" his expectations and were extremely insightful.

"If I had to pick a best outcome of the weekend though, it would have to be the people I met. Transitioning from being a part of a well-known year group to becoming just one face in a sea of 20,000 is a daunting concept. I took a gap year, and I was slightly concerned that I wouldn't know anyone in my courses. But I now know dozens of people who share at least one course with me and that's incredibly reassuring."

Chloe Thompson, ex-Christchurch Girls' High School student studying for an LLB/BSc this year, said the weekend was "truly an invaluable experience".

"Everything from the resources they provided us with to the simple opportunity of meeting new people will help all of us this year in numerous ways."

The ELDP programme continues over the next 10 months with further workshops, seminars, networking opportunities and service projects within the local community.

"A new feature of the programme for the 2011 is a first semester large-scale service project, which will be done in association with the Student Volunteer Army out of the UCSA and then in the second semester the ELDP members will work in teams of five and identify areas within the Christchurch community they can volunteer and serve," Mr Perry said.

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