Advent Christian Village recently held a celebration in honor of 10 years of the Camp Suwannee Leadership Development Training program. A large group of former students as well as current and past leaders attended. It was a fun evening full of remembrances, congratulations and hope for the future.
The Leadership Training experience at Camp Suwannee is a professionally designed program employing techniques used by many Fortune 500 companies and churches all over the country. The focus is on creating a positive, energizing experience where young people learn — and then hone — personal characteristics that help ensure success in school, career, and personal relationships for the rest of their lives.
Each of the adventure weekends teach leadership skills such as teamwork, personal strength, communication skills, and problem-solving techniques through challenging, yet fun activities. Character, confidence and spiritual depth blossom in each trainee as they participate in the program.
Activities include canoe trip, hiking expedition, and ropes course weekends. Upon successful completion of the four weekends, participants are rewarded with a scholarship to the college of their choice.
“Leadership Camp benefits the kids tremendously,” says program organizer, Randy Lamb, who, along with Camp Suwannee Director Doug Mabey and licensed therapist Dr. Rob Crankshaw, runs each of the weekends. “It helps them develop skills and talents that are already there. We find the students through teachers, guidance counselors, business owners, civic leaders, and pastors — people who see leadership potential in the students themselves, but have not fully developed it or realized it. It’s fun to watch as we go through the four weekends — how they develop and grow the qualities within themselves.”
The Camp Suwannee Leadership Training program has been identified as the first step on some graduates’ roads to success. Angela Rodriguez is currently a Navy recruiter. She was part of the first class who went through the program 10 years ago. Two years after graduating from high school, she entered the Navy because she “wanted to be a leader, to make a difference in the world,” Angela explained during her speech at the reunion. She went on to describe her many experiences as an electrical engineer for the U.S. Navy. “If anyone told me years ago that I would have done all of this, seen all of this, by the age of 25, I probably would have called them crazy. But I’m standing here tonight being able to say it’s true, because I have done it — all because at a young age I started learning the values of what it meant to be a leader at places like [Leadership] Camp.”
Advent Christian Village (ACV) was established over 100 years ago as an orphanage and continues its ministry to the young today. The Leadership Development program is just one example. A little over 10 years ago, Jim Humbles, who was President/CEO of ACV at that time, saw a need to develop Christian leadership skills in students because of his “concern about our next generation of moral, Christian leaders in the local community and around the country.”
Jim put together a steering committee comprised of ACV and community leaders, including the Honorable William Slaughter and Mrs. Julie Ulmer. This committee designed the plan that became the Camp Suwannee Leadership Development program. To date, 181 students have completed the program, and over $100,000 in scholarships have been awarded.
Participation in the program is by invitation only and is based on recommendations. Those who are selected are expected to commit to all four program weekends in order to maximize their learning and the learning of the others in the group. Group dynamics are important, and each person plays a vital role in the training. If you would like to nominate a rising high school junior or senior for consideration to participate in the 2016-17 Leadership Training program, contact Randy Lamb at (386) 658-5344 or RLamb@acvillage.net.