Students learn leadership skills through outdoor experience


Participants in the first Outdoor Leadership Experience last summer take a photo break from the day’s hike. Photo: Submitted

The Center for Leadership Development will host its second Outdoor Leadership Experience May 10-15 with a four-day, three-night hike through the Foothills trail that runs across the Carolinas.

Led by Dr. Ryan Meers, director of the Center for Leadership Development and chair of the Division of Communication, along with assistants Mr. Matthew Weathers and Mr. Kasey McClure, the trip teaches students camping and survival skills in the outdoors.

“Students have to find their own water and learn how to set up camp,” McClure said. “But they also learn important leadership skills such as communication, motivation and teamwork.”
     Last year eight students participated in the Outdoor Leadership Experience. They began preparation for the hike the Saturday after graduation and left for the trip on Sunday after church. The group hiked from Laurel Valley to Laurel Fork Falls and camped above the waterfall there.

The trip, which McClure described as an “outdoor leadership laboratory,” is a capstone project in the Center for Leadership Development’s Leadership Certificate Program, although the trip is open to all students. Students enrolled in the program complete 90-125 hours of recorded service, take classes in leadership, attend leadership workshops and complete a capstone project, such as the hike.

Students can apply online through BJUSync for one of the eight spots available on this year’s trip. McClure said students should consider this opportunity because it provides an ideal learning environment. “The Outdoor Leadership Experience puts students in a laboratory setting with a safety net. It takes classroom lessons and puts [them] in a real life scenario.”

The cost for the trip is $100. Sign up began March 1 and is open through April 28. Students should direct any questions to Kasey McClure ([email protected]) in the Center for Leadership Development.