In just two week’s time, students involved in the Berlin High School Upbeat Peer Leadership Program will be on their way up to YMCA Camp Woodstock for the final training weekend of the school year. With freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors invited, the whole weekend starting at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 12 is bound to be a fun one.
Out of the three training weekends held at the camp each year, students tend to enjoy this one the most. Two themes associated with this one are team building and stepping outside of comfort zones, both important skills for good leaders.
A big event that many students look forward to during this weekend would be the challenge course held on Saturday afternoon. For a few hours, the students work together in randomly created teams to complete different parts of a challenge course housed at the camp.
Each station of the course has some sort of a task for the teams to complete, but the overall goal is for the students to work on their leadership skills in the process of all of this. Each station is run by an adult from Upbeat, BHS alum, or a staff member from camp. They are only there to oversee the station, but never to complete the task.
Carley Calafiore, a 2011 BHS graduate who has been involved with the Upbeat Program for nearly ten years still enjoys coming back up to the camp every few months for these training weekends. “Over the years, this place has turned into a home away from home for me. I love coming back here to relive the old memories and create new ones,” she said. Calafiore is already looking forward to returning to camp, even though it has only been two months since the last training workshop.
Though she does not help with the challenge course, she can be found at a different part of the camp during that time. A garden overlooking the lake was built and decorated by the Upbeat Program several years ago in memory of Sandy “Ma” Crowe, an adult member who passed away from cancer in 2011.
Calafiore enjoys spending her time cleaning up and redecorating the garden with a smaller group of alumni and adults. This is all in preparation of the dedication ceremony held every year to remind the students to “never, never, ever give up.” The saying is one students would often here from Crowe, a reminder to keep on going.
Besides the challenge course, there is always time for fun. Saturday night of the workshop is spent watching the seniors put on a performance of their favorite memories throughout the year. Immediately after, they each give a speech about how the program has shaped them over the years. Calafiore says, “it gets emotional, it is like you’re saying goodbye for the last time.”
The night does get to end on a happy note though. The current senior coordinators get to present for the first time the new coordinators for the coming school year. This new group has the opportunity to officially introduce themselves as the newest group of leaders for the program, and they also present the new mascot for the school year.
Many things go on during this weekend at Camp Woodstock, but it is always a fun time for all!