Weeks before the Red Cross Leadership Development Camp (LDC) application was due, I spoke to my parents about whether or not I should attend the camp. I was really hesitant to go to LDC without my friends. I remember telling my parents, "I would attend camp" and then the next day I would tell them "I'll attend [camp] the following year."
The lessons I ended up learning at camp could not have been taught within the confines of the traditional American classroom. Through camp sessions, I quickly picked up skills necessary to emerge as a leader among my peers.
1. Stepping outside of my comfort zone
When I went to camp, I was immediately pushed outside of my comfort zone. The familiar social bubble I had been trapped in for so many years was suddenly gone. With a step outside of my comfort zone, the camp group sessions quickly opened up a large network of mature, caring people.
2. Getting over fears
I also conquered my biggest fears at LDC. Surprisingly, I dreaded singing and dancing in front of an audience. However, with the encouragements of my fellow camp delegates and staffers, I found the confidence to sing and dance during the camp-wide talent show.
3. Gaining confidence in public speaking
The biggest change my parents noticed in me when I came home from camp was my confidence in public speaking. Before attending LDC, I experienced a light case of "stage fright" before any public speaking event. However, at LDC, I was given tips and feedback on my public speaking. Additionally, I was able to practice in front of an audience numerous of times which eased the task of public speaking.
4. Having mentors
A key reason why LDC was so great was because of its amazing staff members. For someone who never had an older sibling, they were the perfect brotherly/sisterly figures to me. They were always amicable and witty around delegates. Their dedication in motivating me to explore new horizons is why I regard them as some of the greatest friends and teachers I have ever had.
5. Exemplifying the skills
Despite the campers saying: "the magic is within the mountains," I personally feel like this magic is made possible because of the wonderful staff and delegates of LDC. I made a pledge to myself to spread this "magic" around in any way possible. In fact, I have already used the skills from LDC to build a successful American Red Cross Club at my high school.
Camp not only made me a leader but also a team player. I was able to learn project planning skills which led to the development of several Red Cross projects within my club. I learned that it was not only essential to be a good leader, but also a good delegator. At Mark Keppel High School, I along with my board members hosted blood drives in conjunction with our school's ASB (Associated Student Body). We also ran a Holiday Mail for Heroes which was a card making session at our school for the American troops. The grandest, largest scale project we did was updating 50 first aid kits for 50 classrooms. Without camp, I would not have been able to carry out these types of projects. LDC taught me how to fundraise, plan projects, delegate tasks and be a leader.
Camp gave me the encouragement to get outside my comfort zone and get over my fears for a second time and run for Red Cross executive board. Never did I imagine that I would have the courage to run for such a highly ranked position -- president of the Arcadia/ San Gabriel Pomona Valley East region. I was reminded of how I was able to get over my fears at camp, ran and successfully obtained the title.
For me, Red Cross LDC can be considered a life-changing experience. Through the lessons I learned at LDC, I led my Red Cross club towards being awarded "Club of the Year" and ranked as a golden sealed club which is the highest qualification in Red Cross Banner Up Program. I was also chosen among my peers as "Volunteer of the Year." I thank Red Cross LDC for helping me get where I am now. With all being said, it's time for you to find your camp experience.