We made it through another Leadership Weekend Experience. It’s hard to wrap my head around all of the incredible wisdom each of the students get to take with them to their band, choir, and orchestra programs.

During the evening sessions on Saturday, MSgt. Billy Rulapaugh of “The Commandant’s Own” United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps told us “leadership begins with modeling and leading by example.” I got to see his words applied first hand when I went with the returning leaders to the ropes and team building course at the Ark Christian Ministries.

Each of the small groups had opportunities where the egos and Type A’s could have easily overpowered other personalities during the exercises, but it was truly special to see each and every student have that moment of clarity where they took a mental step back and allowed everyone to have a moment to shine or speak their mind.

I got the opportunity to climb to the top of the ropes course and the giant swing with my intern, Kayla. As someone with a moderate fear of heights, I had a special moment with Kayla, a person I have known for a short period of time, encourage me and help me make it to the top of the course. That’s a moment each of those returning leaders get to have. A moment of trust and loyalty amongst your colleagues because that’s the only way to learn and grow.

Back on campus, our first-time leaders had break out, team-building activities of their own with the likes of Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser and Bobby Lambert. This time is so precious to all of campers because it gives them the chance to really open up and talk about issues that affect them and their programs every single day while gaining a ton of new perspectives on how to tackle them. That is something I definitely wish I had when I was a section leader in my band.

While my team and I were driving back from the ropes course, I had a moment I was pretty bummed to see this chapter of the Summer Symposium come to an end but then I was struck by the awesome reminder: this isn’t the end for these students. This is just the beginning. As we welcome our additional 1,400+ campers, directors, and faculty to campus this morning, our leadership students will get six days of putting the valuable lessons we have learned into action. Mgst. Rulapaugh told us to “find the person you want to be like and follow suit” and now is the chance for them to take those words and be that person for the incoming students helping everyone achieve excellence.

I can’t wait to watch them all hit the ground running and help lead us into the best Summer Symposium we have seen yet!