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Davenport Leadership program uses teamwork and service to teach life lessons

Davenport Leadership Institute group

Davenport Leadership Institute: Web Site | Photo Gallery

Davenport Leadership Institute students have spent the past two weeks shooting across zip lines, completing scavenger hunts, and volunteering in the community—all in the name of teambuilding.

The slate of events and bonding exercises are designed to prepare them to mentor new students during orientation sessions and during the academic year.

“I think the neat thing about the Davenport Leadership Institute is that you start with a group of students that don’t know each other well, then they end up as a family that takes care of one another and relies on each other to support and carry out day-to-day responsibilities as a team,” said Amanda Denny, director of leadership and engagement.

Each Davenport Leader is assigned a group of at least eight incoming students. Some also serve as student mentors during the fall semester.

The two-week program provides leadership skills while also helping the Davenport students learn more about Randolph’s campus and academic programs. A scavenger hunt also tested the Davenport Leaders’ familiarity with businesses, restaurants, and other sites in downtown Lynchburg. What they learned should help them answer questions about the area and will come in handy when they take the new students on field trips to some of the most popular attractions during orientation in August.

“When first-years come to campus, we don’t just want them to feel like Randolph is home for four years; we want them to feel comfortable enough to call Lynchburg home,” Denny said.

Another component of the Davenport Leadership Institute is emphasizing the importance of community service with the hopes that the students will share that new passion with incoming students. During the two-week summer program, the students conducted science experiments involving eggs, rockets, and cars with children in a science camp at Lynchburg’s Jubilee Family Development Center this week.

“It’s been good practice, and it’s also helping us figure out what type of situations we can use our leadership skills in, and in what kinds of situations we can step up and take on the role of a leader,” said Yolanda Cobblah ’17.

The Davenport Leaders also worked with high school students in the Links program, a partnership that allows high school students who might not see college as an option to spend time learning about college life with Randolph students.

“Our goal is not to put on our admissions caps and sell Randolph, but instead to let them know that college is an achievable target if they have the desire to continue their education,” said Denny.

“I think it really made an impact on them,” said Missy Hussey ’18. “They opened up to us so fast, and I just felt like they looked up to us and seemed really excited about college.”

Davenport team building activity

Teams try walking on “alligator boards” at Camp Kum-Ba-Yah.

Several adventurous activities add a fun element to the Davenport program. The experiences zip lining or high ropes climbing are intended challenge the Davenport students while also teaching them the importance of teamwork.

The students also walked in small teams on “alligator boards,” or wooden planks attached to ropes. “The ground exercises challenged the group to step outside of their comfort zones to work toward an end goal together,” Denny said.

A night away with no television or internet at nearby Eagle Eyrie Conference Center provided even more opportunity for team bonding.

“When building teams, it’s important to get everyone away from their day-to-day life and be in a secluded space,” said Denny. “This allows them to make connections, and it helps everyone feel much more comfortable.”

They also took Myers Briggs personality tests, which revealed leadership styles and other traits. “It helped us get to know ourselves, and in doing that we got to know everybody else and how to function with them,” said Evan Scarborough ’16. “That’s a real world application too, not just inside of Randolph.”

Today, the group worked with Coordinator of Student Activities Nick Spicer on skits about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The students will perform the skits for new students. They also led their first orientation programs last weekend, and are preparing for the second session scheduled to begin tomorrow, June 27.

Tia Jones ’17 said the Davenport Leadership program is uniquely different from other groups on campus.

“Being in this group has made me realize just how unique Randolph is. It’s not something you can replicate,” Jones said, adding that her fellow Davenport Leaders have become a tight-knit group through the program. “I know that I can go to any one of these people if I have an issue, a problem, or a question, and they’ll be there for me.”

Learn more about the Davenport Leadership Program.

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