Leadership Training in Colorado

This past summer, I spent 2 months in Winter Park, Colorado with H2O Church, a campus ministry, to develop leadership skills and to engage with the gospel in new ways. While we were there, we also worked for 40 hours a week at the YMCA.

The main thing that was transformed in me during this trip was a love of nature and an appreciation for the natural world. Colorado, and specifically the Rocky Mountains, is one of the most beautiful places in our country. This is mainly due to the alpine conditions, and the amazing lushness of the mountains underneath. Luckily, during this summer, I was able to experience nature like never before, due to the weekly hikes I went on in my time off. Although I liked hiking before I went, it was not until this summer that I found peace in hiking. Now, I see it as a useful way to unwind after a long week, and a great way to center myself before a new week. This appreciation for nature has also given me a new fire for doing my best for the environment.

As mentioned above, it was the frequent hiking that most changed my life. Most important was hiking Long’s Peak, which is a mountain that is over 14,000 feet high. To summit it, my group left at 2 in the morning, and it took us at least 7 hours. During the hike, there was a 7,000 feet elevation gain, and in total we hiked 14 miles that day. Hiking something as challenging as this gave me many more skills than just my outdoor skills.

It taught me to rely on other people. The group I hiked with was one of many different skill levels and preparation levels, but all 20 of us summited that morning. There were some very tricky parts of the trail and times that you needed others to help you climb up. This is similar to everyday life. There are tricky parts, and there are going to be other people with more experience or a different perspective that can help you.

I also learned that I am stronger than I think, and that endurance is just as mental as it is physical. On the way back down the mountain, I was very very tired, but I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This perseverence has obvious applications to everyday life, particularly in college, when assignments can feel overwhelming. Spending time in the intersection of motivation and perseverence was truly transformational, because it showed me that even tasks that seem impossible can be conquered one step at a time. This is something that I was previously lacking.

This change is important to my life because I have found that gaining a love and appreciation for nature, along with learning to ask for help and increasing my endurance has given me a better idea of who I want to be. It has also taught me how I want to handle problems. Spending time in nature, as well as excercising, are both shown to have a significant impact on reducing anxiety. Anxiety is something that I struggle with and I have no doubt will continue to be a problem as I move through various stages of life. Therefore, learning to control it in such a positive way is very important. Additionally, skills like learning to ask for help and perseverence are valued in the work force and will help me greatly.

STEP Reflection: Colorado Leadership Training

For my STEP signature project, I chose to attend a leadership training (LT) program in Winter Park, Colorado through H2O, my church on campus. At LT, we learned how to be leaders both within the church community and outside of it. We also worked 40 hours a week at the local YMCA.
The main thing that impacted me this summer was living in the Rocky Mountains. I learned to love and experience nature like I never have before. I learned that I could push through a 14 mile hike up one of the most dangerous peaks in Colorado and come out the other side. This, combined with the leadership training that I received through the LT program, has transformed me into someone who knows that she can persevere through anything life throws at her. This summer also taught me a lot about adapting to tough situations, like the 9,000 feet of elevation that made it hard to breath and the sometimes overwhelmingly challenging aspects of the LT program.
Towards the end of LT, my friends and I decided that we wanted to hike Long’s Peak, a mountain that has a 47% rate of summitting. Long’s Peak is one of Colorado’s many 14ers, or mountains that are higher than 14,000 feet in elevation at their summit. We hit the trail on a Sunday, at one o’clock in the morning. It was a very strenuous hike with lots of scrambling up steep, slippery rock, but after about eight hours, we made it. Coming down the mountain was equally hard, made worse by the fact that we were hurrying to beat the thunderstorm. My legs were so tired that I could barely pick my feet up. Eventually, after 14 hours, we made it back to our cars. This experience taught me that I can do things that I never thought possible. It also taught me that I have a great group of friends and a God that I can rely on in difficult situations.
The LT program consisted of a worship service on Mondays, a workshops on Wednesdays and Fridays, and a whole day devoted to God with my team. On top of that, we worked 40 hours a week at the YMCA. This schedule was a bit overwhelming to me. It also meant that a lot of the time, I had to choose investing in my spiritual health and my relationship with God over going hiking or camping. This showed me that life is really about balance.
My job at the YMCA also helped transform me. I worked at the front desk of the Programs’ department, where I signed people up for activities. I went into this job with no secretarial experience at all. Now, I can say that I am so much better at customer service, clerical duties, and problem solving.
All of these experiences are valuable to me. Summitting Long’s Peak is something that I will never forget, and all of the hours that I spent hiking this summer have shown me that hiking is a new hobby that I never want to give up. It is amazing stress relief and excellent physical exercise. The hours I invested into LT activities like team days pushed me to become a better follower of God. That is invaluable for my spiritual health. It is also something that I can share with others at my church and at Ohio State. Lastly, my job at the YMCA this summer has been excellent for my professional development skills. All of these things together make up a pretty great summer, and they will have a lasting impact on my personal, spiritual, and professional health for years to come.