Experience at the 2016 Leadership Development Camp
“For those who haven’t been to LDC, no explanation is possible. For those who have been to LDC, no explanation is necessary.”
Tiny slips of papers with the above quote were handed out in bags bearing the iconic Red Cross logo, as the campers left the Leadership Development Camp to resume their lives in society. For one long week, several hundred participants from Southern California gathered at the Pilgrim Pines Camp and Conference Center to become part of the LDC family, while learning skills and valuable practices important in daily life.
LDC attempts to form inseparable bonds in a limited amount of time. From the start of the camp, participants were not allowed to use their phones despite the lack of cell reception. Assigned to separate cabins and made to mingle, campers had to exercise social and cooperation skills, which were utilized throughout the various activities and the hands-on experience. The staff did not tell anyone their ages, because they wanted to be equal to everyone else on campgrounds, and surprisingly enough, the mystery of the unknown age of all staff made it possible for LDC to be such an amazing and empowering experience.
For every activity, there was an icebreaker, a chance to fraternize and learn about new people of diverse perspectives and backgrounds. On the first day, participants were organized into several clans. From then on, the clans were together for nearly everything: the Olympic Games, the Clash of the Titans, and other activities requiring intense participation and dedication from each member of the clan.
After each day, there was a speakeasy led by two newly trained staff members recently converted from delegates. The speakeasy was a place where all regulations were thrown out — campers were able to say freely things and circumstances that aren’t easily shared even between good friends. At the end of the day, there was a closing circle, where everyone gathered hands and stated the things and emotions felt on that particular day at the Leadership Development Camp.
Due to the LDC, I’ve made many close friends, whom I hated being separated from on the last day of camp. Because of the deep impact this camp had on me , especially regarding the importance of words, I would like to continue to learn and serve the place that taught me so much by hopefully becoming a staffer next year.