For about one-third of every school year, participants in the “Call to Adventure” Affinity Group at South Kent School challenge themselves and develop strong leadership skills through activities such as making small cliff/waterfall jumps, navigating caves, and climbing mountains. One example occurs each spring, when a group of 11th, 12th, and post-graduate students aims for the highest point in the Rocky Mountains.
The boarding and day school is home to 180 boys from 19 states and 22 countries. “Many have little experience in nature and, while most are fit, not all are at the same levels,” says the program’s director, Patrick Bonis. “But this climb isn’t technical, so it allows them to attempt its summit with little to no mountaineering expertise. They push their known limits; but most importantly, they learn to care about the boys next to them—the objective isn’t met unless they all stay healthy and cohesive.”
A recent team-building event asked groups to complete a set number of burpees—also know as squat thrusts—in sync and in an allotted time. “When one student was hurting, the group noticed and gave him a break,” says Mr. Bonis. “There was no frustration, animosity, or feeling that someone was bringing the group down. True leaders care not for themselves, but for the people they’re working with.”
Teaming up with classmates from all over the world offers unique opportunities, says senior Clay Hoadley. “People with different frames of reference come together and collaborate to achieve the greater goal. These kinds of experiences have meant the most to me. They’ve taught me leadership styles and ways to handle many different situations.”