Bottom Row-Second from right: Melanie Carter, Denton & Keuler
On the afternoon of August 19, the members of Leadership Paducah Class 25 loaded themselves and their gear aboard a bus bound for Camp Mack Morris in Camden, Tn. The class members, many of whom were unacquainted prior to the initial class meeting, spent much of the two-hour journey getting to know one another through games and conversation.
It was through one of these games that each person had the opportunity to draw a word from an envelope. Courage, strength, loyalty, leadership, bravery...class members were charged with applying these words to their experiences throughout the weekend. Few could have anticipated the extent to which words like courage and leadership would apply the weekend events.
After settling into accommodations at the Birdsong Resort, Class 25 loaded up the bus and headed to the site of the weekend's main event: Project C.O.P.E.
The class was met by camp leaders who gave a brief explanation of the weekend's events. Participants learned that Project C.O.P.E. (Challenging Outdoor Personal Expience) is a program from the Boy Scouts of America that focuses on challenging participants as a team and as individuals. Project C.O.P.E. uses a series of challenges to help teams build essential skills including: trust, teamwork, leadership, decision making and problem solving.
After camp ofﬁcials ensured that all participants were appropriately outﬁtted in running shoes and bandanas, the class was split into two teams. Each team was presented with a series of challenges that required communication, teamwork, trust and compromise. Challenges ranged from the fairly simple task of passing a hula-hoop in a circle to the more intense task of scaling a wall as a team.
"Each event forced the team members to work closely together, sometimes in very uncomfortable environments," says class member Phillip Chesnut. "As each activity was completed, I noticed the team members becoming closer."
According to camp ofﬁcials, tasks on the Project C.O.P.E. course are designed to progressively strengthen teamwork. The challenges require members to step up as individuals, team members and team leaders at different times - depending upon the task at hand.
Class member David Boggs states: "I know the C.O.P.E. challenges caused many people to step out of their comfort zone on a physical level, but you also saw people step up in leadership roles - even though it may have made them uncomfortable to do so.
"Members of Class 25 feel as though lessons learned at Camp Mack Morris will serve them well throughout the year as they work together.
"The retreat brought us closer as a group," says class member Meghan Hefner. "When the time comes to crackdown on our group project, we will trust each other to fulﬁll our responsibilities."
Without a doubt, the experiences that members of Leadership Paducah Class 25 had at the opening retreat will prove essential as they work together to have a positive impact on our community.
As printed in The Chamber Connection, October 2011.