Taking it outdoors

Leadership camp offers students a new look at learning

3/13/2015 3:06:32 PM

Ten students from around the province participated in a number of team-building and leadership development exercises while also getting to enjoy some outdoor activities during an Adventure Leadership Development Camp from March 3-5 in Gros Morne National Park. The camp offered students an authentic wilderness experience with a focus on leadership and team building during their Reading Week break.

One of College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) long-standing beliefs is that students don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn new skills or develop a sense of comradery with fellow students – in fact, thinking outside the classroom is encouraged!
That’s how the Adventure Leadership Development Camp came to be – it was a chance to offer students an authentic wilderness experience that had a focus on leadership and team building. The camp, which took place from March 3-5 in Gros Morne National Park, had 10 students from around the province participate in a number of team-building and leadership development exercises while also getting to enjoy some outdoor activities during their Reading Week break.
Like any outdoor activity in Newfoundland and Labrador, success depends on Mother Nature’s willingness to cooperate.
“The week began by transporting students to Corner Brook, where we went over the planned itinerary for the next three days,” said Jeff Martin, an instructor in the School of Natural Resources, who coordinated the event. “The next day the weather hampered our early start and we got off by mid-afternoon to travel to Gros Morne where we would travel by snowshoe, ski and snowmobile to the backcountry hut in Southwest Gulch.”
Unfortunately for the group, after arriving at the trailhead and beginning their ascent into the hut, they were quickly greeted with heavy snow on the trail. This impeded their progress to a point where they were making very little headway. So, being a leadership development team, they made an executive decision and decided that they had to adapt to the poor weather and change their plans to go to a nearby cabin for the night rather than take any risks.
“The next day we did some ice breakers, which allowed the participants to get to know one another and then headed to Gros Morne Mountain for a group snowshoe,” said Martin. “The snowshoe was great, everybody helped out one another on the trail and with carrying gear. The next day, Thursday, was the last day, and as you would know it, the weather improved considerably, the sun even came out! We took this opportunity to work on our leadership and team building skills with three initiatives.”
The initiatives were a series of challenges that would only prove successful if the students worked together. Once the challenge had been completed, obstacles would then be introduced to the activity that would hinder communication between the teammates (such as blindfolds, instructions to not talk, having a team leader provide all instruction) and they would have to repeat the challenge.
Kristan Froude, a Comprehensive Arts and Science Transition student at the Prince Philip Drive campus in St. John’s, says the experience was one she is thankful to have participated in, and that the event coordinators kept the trip informative and interesting despite the weather conditions.
“While we were at the cabin we did many team building activities. During these activities we overcame obstacles and solved problems all as a team. I'm quite glad that I got to experience this adventure with new friends and experienced instructors like Faron (Barnes) and Jeff,” said Froude. “It was amazing to see so much interest from all the other CNA campuses and ever better that they got to participate. It was my first time on the west coast of the province so I was delighted that I got to see everything.”
Martin says the group conducted debrief sessions after each of the activities, which proved to be valuable. He says the participants were very engaged throughout the whole process and took away some insights and experiences from the discussions that they could further reflect upon and transfer to their everyday lives.
“The experience included a number of critical life skills such as respect, responsibility, cooperation, accountability and trust,” said Martin. “Overall, the first ever CNA Adventure Leadership and Team Building Camp was a huge success. The participants created lifelong friendships and memories that they could reflect upon and integrate into their academic, personal and professional lives.”
Waverly Mercer, an engineering student at Ridge Road campus, says the week of activities had a lasting impact.

“Over the course of the week the group and I developed communication and leadership skills, along with a friendship that will remain intact in the years to come. It was surprising how close our group became, and within such a short amount of time,” said Mercer.

“Overall, this trip was very well organized (props to Jeff), whether it be the team bonding, outdoor activities, or meal planning. If my graduation wasn't around the corner, I would sign up again in a heartbeat.”
Froude says despite the weather conditions, her group was able to overcome the challenges and make an enjoyable week of their time together.
“We were a group of students from all over Newfoundland and Labrador,” she said. “I'll have these friends and use my experiences from this trip forever - I'm pleased to say that we all are indeed keeping in touch.”
Media Contact:
Roger Hulan
Communications Specialist
College of the North Atlantic
(709) 643-7938