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.