One of the longstanding events that SLICE puts on to help students grow in their leadership journey is the Student Leadership Retreat. This is a three-day experience for students looking to practice teambuilding skills, explore leadership concepts and create community all while learning their personal leadership philosophy. This year’s leadership retreat was held on the weekend of October 20th at Camp Cho-Yeh in Livingston Texas.
The goal of UHCL’s Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE) program is to create an environment for students to learn and grow through the personal development of leadership. This is achieved through servant leadership, civic engagement and leadership workshops.
Since I am a part of SLICE’s Hawk Leadership Institute, I had the opportunity to go to the retreat last year free of charge. To be honest, I went into the retreat thinking that it would be lame and only scratch the surface of what it meant to be a leader. Thankfully, I was wrong. The retreat was easily the best hands-on learning experience that I’d ever been through and I definitely learned a lot throughout the weekend thanks to the amazing staff and facilitators who put on the whole program.
This year, I had the opportunity to serve as a facilitator for the retreat. In this role, I led a small group with a co-facilitator and also helped run various activities/icebreakers throughout the weekend while making sure everything ran smoothly.
Subsequently, I also gave a short speech on a personal leadership experience. My topic was “Taking Risks with Support,” and I planned to talk about how even though I felt limited in my ability to lead because of my stutter, I learned to take risks in my leadership roles with the support of my friends and mentors. I was excited but really nervous.
When we arrived at Camp Cho-Yeh, we introduced ourselves and immediately immersed ourselves in activities ranging from diversity step ins, all the way to competitive team building exercises such as “Battleship” and “The Amazing Race.” I enjoyed helping facilitate various activities that I partook in last year, and it was really interesting to see the learning outcomes from the outside in.
I also got to meet my small group and they were amazing. The conversations that we were able to have about identities and how they affected our leadership in practice really was one of my top highlights of the retreat in general. After a long day, we went to the high ropes course to face our fears and support each other through a literal test of endurance.
Overall, I didn’t think I would learn anything new during the retreat since I had already been on it the previous year, but I was wrong. Being in the facilitator role helped to solidify some of the learning outcomes from the previous year, and it put me in a position to put them to use in an actual leadership role. It was a really fun weekend and I would definitely recommend the retreat to anyone curious about what SLICE has to offer.