The Community Leadership Development Program launched with a resounding cheer on September 18, with a weekend of learning and team challenges at the Cowichan Lake Outdoor Education Centre. As the new Executive Director, I attended the graduation celebration of the 2014-15 program last May, which showed me the finishing point for our community leaders. The Launch Weekend gave me a whole new appreciation for the journey our participants navigate, by showing me the beginnings.
The Launch Weekend begins on Friday morning. Participants arrive at the Cowichan Lake Outdoor Education Centre with some ideas of what to expect, having completed some reading and early tasks to help introduce themselves to their fellow learners.
We start out by getting to know each other with some fun activities. Despite the mild sprinklings of rain, we were outdoors, circulating and chatting. A lot of our conversations were punctuated with outrageous laughter. After the project teams were revealed, we convened to the lounge for a delicious lunch. (ALL of the food this weekend was out of this world!).
During the first afternoon, we learned about Myers-Briggs type indicators and various ways of recognizing and working with different personalities on our teams. Much respect goes out to the Program Committee, a team of volunteers who plan, deliver and support all of the teachings and hands-on learning activities at the Launch Weekend (and our Community Learning Days throughout the year). In the evening on Friday, we shared our own ideas of what inspirational leadership looks like.
Saturday was another early start and big learning day. Participants shared what community means to them, and were challenged to dig deep for clarity on their personal values. After another terrific lunch, participants learned some tools for approaching difficult conversations and getting past obstacles in relationships when there's a "pinch" moment. The afternoon and evening were dedicated to a team challenge which is top secret - we don't want to give away the surprise for next year's class! I'll just say that it was creative, challenging and inspiring.
Sunday's morning session was dedicated to our project teams getting together with their team coaches to talk about their upcoming projects. Unfortunately I had to leave early on Sunday morning so I didn't get to attend the closing. Here's a great picture of our 2015-16 Community Leadership Development Program class with members of the Program Committee...all looking far more perky and well-rested than they really were, I suspect!