It has been a privilege to be a part of the leadership camp this week. La Crosse and Lakota students spent three days together learning about the importance of strong leaders, the characteristics of good leaders and skills needed to be a leader. Through a variety of discussions, small groups, role playing, and games the students learned about the heart, ears, actions and voice of a leader.
The La Crosse students prepared well for the camp. They were charged with leading ice breakers and games and facilitating some of the small group and pairs work. Lakota and La Crosse students alike were challenged to speak, listen and work with integrity and with the good of the larger group and community always in mind.
I was most struck by watching the process of these students finding, developing and using their “voice of a leader”. Through simple ice breakers, silly games and plain old practice students learned (others perfected) the basic but so important skill of introducing oneself and others with confidence. We saw how difficult this could be for some and were thrilled as a shy newcomer would stand and share her name for the first time. More amazing was that by the end of the third day, these same students had mastered the basics of parliamentary procedure. Lakota students, with the support of those from La Crosse, worked diligently to develop a list of ideas to improve life for youth in the communities of Kyle and Wanblee. Next step….these same students would present their ideas to the tribal council. Wow!
At its most fundamental level poverty is so much more than a lack of material items and resources. At its core is an absence of opportunities, lack of control, feelings and experiences of humiliation, lack of power and voice, hopelessness. So the answers to alleviating poverty in a community cannot be found in providing material goods but rather in working collaboratively to give its members a voice. What better place to focus efforts than with the youth.
The camp began quietly as both Lakota and La Crosse students found their comfort levels with the activities and each other. But by the conclusion, voices were many, loud and strong….a beautiful sign of hope for the future!
by Sheila Riley