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Raising a leader: What truly defines a leader?

By: Dr. Stefanie Aronow, Chief Medical Officer

I am proud to be a part of Tamarack Camps agency leadership and feel strongly that our campers are gaining necessary skills to be fantastic future leaders of our community. 

Many successful leaders attribute their leadership skills to positive childhood experiences. From watching a camp counselor guide a successful hiking trip or a coach motivating their team through the struggles of a tough game, kids learn early on how to recognize the qualities of a great leader.

Teaching leadership skills can empower young people with increased self-confidence, boost motivation to work hard, explore new interests, and strengthen their sense of control and identity. These attributes are transferable across many areas of growth and development. 

While not all young people aspire to be leaders, they may excel in certain aspects of leadership. Using a progressive development approach in each of our programs at camp (increasing skill development every year), we aim to instill a lead-by-example approach. We help to develop and practice “soft skills” like communication and collaboration. When kids are taught to believe in themselves and that their perspective matters, they become better at self-advocacy, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.

A Blueprint of 10 Leadership Skills: 

  1. Self-awareness: Guide them to understand their emotions and navigate their feelings with resilience.
  2. Responsibility: Cultivate a sense of ownership and accountability for their actions and commitments.
  3. Listening: Equipping them with the power of active listening, a potent tool in a leader’s arsenal.
  4. Inclusion: Fostering an environment where everyone is valued, heard, and included, spurring collaboration and camaraderie.
  5. Identifying and solving problems: Learning to gather information, brainstorm solutions, and implementation of the best idea.
  6. Collaboration: Encouraging everyone in the group to contribute their strengths, ensuring a well-rounded and successful outcome.
  7. Communication: Using clear and compelling language that captivates an audience’s attention.
  8. Self-advocacy:  Support of voicing opinions during decision-making processes, respectfully expressing thoughts and concerns.
  9. Time management: Balancing responsibilities and activities, ensuring completion of tasks efficiently while still having time for relaxation and socializing.
  10. Goal setting: Setting personal goals to improve skills and practicing to achieve them. 

Every young person has the potential to be a great leader when they work on skills to lead themselves. When young people feel empowered, they’re more likely to take on leadership roles and be the change they want to see. These young leaders will illuminate the world around them. Together, we believe in nurturing leaders who will stand up, speak out, and shape a better tomorrow.

As we wrap up another unforgettable summer, we want to extend our sincerest thanks to our camp heroes. To Jen Feinberg, Gail Chynoweth, the medical committee (including Dr. Mike Feld and Erin Simmerman, Co-Chairs), our dedicated clinic staff and social work team – our gratitude for your tireless dedication throughout the year and this summer cannot be captured with words. Thank you for making camp a haven of growth where safety, health, and wellness is our number one priority.