A fter devouring a healthy lunch at The Inn at Hocking College, 62 grinning children piled into a large school bus and headed over to Robbins Crossing Historical Village.
Here, the kids were gathered into one large group with multiple Challenge Course Facilitators. Sharks and Minnows was the game of choice, an exciting rendition of tag that teaches basic skills such as listening and understanding boundaries.
After a quick, enjoyable game of Sharks and Minnows, the lively bunch was divided into smaller groups in which the first official outdoor leadership training began.
First Presbyterian Church of Nelsonville collaborated with Ohio University Outdoor Pursuits in an effort to create this stimulating Adventure Learning and Leadership Program for the young campers of Circle Round the Square. The training includes three half-day Friday sessions, starting June 27 and ending July 18.
The Adventure Learning and Leadership Program focuses on developing leadership, self-esteem, teamwork and trust building through a low-ropes challenge course at Robbins Crossing Historical Village and the First Presbyterian Church’s 380-acre wilderness camp.
“The goal is to stretch your boundaries, your comfort zones,” said Peter Galbraith, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Nelsonville.
While the first Adventure Learning and Leadership program focuses mainly on trust building, cooperation and listening, the last two sessions involve much more challenging ropes course trainings to fully enhance the camper’s understanding of leadership, problem solving and self-awareness.
Because the children are taken out of their comfort zone and challenged to find solutions, a great deal of problem solving and teamwork is required from each camper in order for them to find a solution to overcome the problem, said Galbraith.
“I think that anything that gets kids involved with each other in an instructive and positive way adds to other things they’re doing (in life),” he said. “I think it’s a topnotch sort of experience for a lot of people to be exposed to.”
Circle Round the Square is a free, five-week summer camp through Paper Circle that focuses on various arts-based curriculum and teachings for the youth of Nelsonville.
Activities include arts track classes like ceramics, skateboard design and hand papermaking photography and screen-printing, as well as wellness classes such as garden and nutrition arts, digital storytelling/social media, culinary arts and more.
“It teaches you a lot of things like responsibility and you get to meet new friends,” said Sarah O’nail, a previous Circle Round the Square camper who has now advanced to an intern position. “It helped me realize ways I can be a leader.”
Barbara Campagnola, Executive Director of Paper Circle, started Circle Round the Square in 2005 due to a lack of art classes offered throughout the city’s schools. The program helps to enrich children with arts-based activities and classes that they would otherwise not experience until, possibly, high school.
A Youth Leadership program also began in 2013, allowing campers to intern for the camp the following summer while assuming greater leadership roles and positions.
Circle Round the Square campers range from fourth to 12th grade.
This article was written on behalf of the Athens Foundation.