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MLW offers Maryland Humanities a glimpse of “Reality”

When a delegate comes to a Maryland Leadership Workshops (MLW) summer camp program, they’re given more than toasted marshmallows and bug spray—they’re given an opportunity to incite positive change in our society. Delegates of the Senior High Workshop (SHW), which is open to any high school student entering grades 9 through 12, are tasked with a project called “Reality,” where they are challenged to work with a non-profit or advocate for a cause.

MLW Senior High Workshop delegates teamed up with Maryland Humanities to bring new creativity to the non-profit organization.

MLW Senior High Workshop delegates teamed up with Maryland Humanities to bring new creativity to the non-profit organization.

Alison Curry, an employee of MLW, and her group of two dozen SHW delegates, teamed up with Maryland Humanities, a non-profit that brings educational experiences in the humanities to people throughout the state. With a goal of expanding Maryland Humanities’ footprint, the delegates set forth putting together a three-part plan that they would present to the organization’s director of development, Aaron Heinsman.

“We approached it as ‘how can teenagers help a non-profit like Maryland Humanities,’” says Curry. “I got in contact with them and worked with Aaron Heinsman. We set up a Skype call so the kids could meet him. On the very first day they got to call him and ask him questions about Maryland Humanities. From there, it was their project and they came up with everything.”

Their three-part plan started with an idea to develop a smartphone app that could increase engagement for their events and programs as well as incorporate user-generated content. Part two focused on increasing the organization’s social media presence, specifically on Instagram, and they presented their ideas with a video that illustrated the effect it would have.

The final part, and the part that resonated most with Heinsman, was called “Humanities on Wheels.” The team came up with an idea to refurbish a school bus and drive it to other counties as a sort of traveling museum or library, to bring art and literature to places where access may not be so readily available.

A mock-up of the Humanities on Wheels repurposed school bus, created by the MLW delegates.

A mock-up of the Humanities on Wheels repurposed school bus, created by the MLW delegates.

“They had this idea of it being an inviting atmosphere for young people,” said Heinsman. “They could read and discuss literature or have spoken-word performances. It could be sort of a quasi-coffee house atmosphere where people could write or draw. I loved the idea. They even made an estimated budget of buying a bus, refurbishing it, maintaining it, and what it would cost to continue it over the years. There was a lot of creativity in the idea as well as discipline and rigor in how it could actually be feasible.”

Many of the ideas that the delegates came up with were ones that the employees of Maryland Humanities had already considered in the past, which was impressive to Heinsman as it showed higher-level thinking at such a young age. Ideas like incorporating crowdsourcing for funding and introducing more video content while expanding their social media presence are ideas that the non-profit organization may put into action in the near future. Overall, Heinsman was very impressed by the work the delegates did in the program and by the program itself.

“Any time I have an experience like this where I interact with a group of young people who are engaging with ideas and strategies, it reminds me that I can be positive about our future,” said Heinsman.

Being able to apply creativity and strategy in a way that could actually affect change in society is an opportunity that few students see in high school. Programs like MLW give young people that chance and encourages them to be leaders, thinkers, and friends.

“Maryland Leadership Workshops empowers people in a way that I haven’t seen in other arenas,” said Curry. “There’s no other chance you’re going to have to be surrounded by peers and staff, to grow, to take risks, and to challenge yourself. That uniqueness, the skills it gives the delegates, the tools they come away with, that opportunity for growth, you won’t get it anywhere else.”

Wendesday/Thursday Update!

It was another beautiful day on campus! Delegates finished Round 2 of workshops (see descriptions of Creative Problem Solving and GroupME from the previous post) and began Round 3:

Public Speaking: Delegates identified and practiced effective public speaking strategies.

Diversity: Delegates explored and identified different types of diversity, learned about informational diversity and its impact on cultural competency, and utilized courageous conversations as a tool to raise the level of cultural competency.

Advocacy: Delegates explored the difference between equity and equality, learned the importance of advocating with perspective, developed and advocacy plan, and reflected on the significance of advocacy.

Delegates continued to make progress in their tuning groups and in their region meetings. and Reality projects are close to completion.

Wednesday night’s activity was an MLW favorite – Messy Games Night! On Thursday, we were treated to a talent show with amazing performances from our delegates including poetry, music, dance, and more.

Friday will entail the final rotation of Round 3 workshops plus the culmination of the Reality projects. Of  course, everyone is looking forward to tonight’s dance!

On Saturday, we look forward to seeing you all at 10:45am for the closing ceremony in Gibson Center for the Arts, where check-in took place. Enter the college at Greenwood Ave. and proceed to the parking lot behind Gibson (click here for campus map). REMINDER: The theater where the closing ceremony will take place only seats 400, so once it’s full people will be seated in another theater upstairs where the ceremony will be simulcast.

MLW Merchandise will be for sale at check-out. Hats are $15, water bottles and drawstring bags are $10, and car magnets are $5. Check and cash only, please.

See you all Saturday!

 

Senior High Tuesday Update

Last night’s rain gave way to a cool breeze welcomed by all. Delegates finished Round 1 Workshops and started Round 2 Workshops.

Some highlights of the day:

In Creative Problem Solving, delegates debunked the myth that only some people are creative and learned how to navigate the creative process as leaders.

In GroupME (Group Dynamics, Motivation and Empowerment), delegates discussed the dynamics of working with groups, how to utilize their strengths to move through he stages of group development (performed via rap cypher!) and determined ways to use motivation and empowerment to advance causes in their communities.

In committees (broken down by geographic region), delegates continued to forge bonds and discuss issues facing their shared communities. Many of our delegates hold school and regional leadership positions so these meetings are an excellent opportunity to build  strategic partnerships and prepare for advocacy back home.

During group meetings, delegates had the opportunity to attend different “club” meetings during their unstructured time. During today’s session, staff member Hunter led delegates through Improv games and activities to learn how to react with spontaneity and humor.

In the evening, delegates experienced Tuesday Night Activity, or TuNA as it has been dubbed, an interactive series of games meant to spark ways of thinking that aren’t as commonly practiced. Activities included logic puzzles, guessing games and even a dance battle!

At the end of the night, delegates reflected on their day during hall meeting. Round 2 Workshops will be in full swing tomorrow and delegates will start preparing for their end of week presentations in REALITY.

Senior High Is In The House!

Here we are at the end of our first full day! After parents left yesterday, delegates got a tour of the campus and played ice-breaking games with their teams.  Then they had their first workshop, “What Is Leadership?” where they explored what leadership is and how it applies to them. They also identified leaders in their lives and discussed characteristics of good leadership.

After dinner in the dining hall, delegates were treated to a decades-old MLW tradition called Visions, a candle-light ceremony held outdoors after dark. Delegates sat in silence while staff members, one at a time, recited a poem or song lyrics that has meaning to them personally. This provided delegates an opportunity to learn a little more about their staffers, and it was a nice way to settle down after a very active day.

This morning after breakfast, delegates enjoyed their very first Morning Sing of the week with an old favorite, Baby Shark! The purpose of Morning Sing is to get delegates energized and excited first thing in the morning before we start our formal activities of the day.

Today was the beginning of Workshops Round One:
  • Self Awareness: Delegates explore how their upbringing and environment have contributed to what they believe and value in the world.

  • Basics of Communication: Delegate gain an appreciation and experience with different contexts and forms of communication to maximize the effect and appeal of their message.

  • SMART Decisions: Delegates create SMART goals that help to maximize their efforts towards goals, big and small.  They also discussed how values influence the decisions we all make daily and over the years.

After lunch, delegates met with their Regions for the first time. They were introduced to all the delegates at the camp from their county/region. They played get-to-know games to begin with then shared what they considered various strengths of their county or region. This committee will, by the end of the week, identify issues that impact their region and work towards creating solutions.

Delegates then spent time with their teams working on their REALITY project. Each group has a different project to work on either in partnership with a non profit or advocating for a cause.

Prior to dinner, we held our first seminar called Finding Your “Hype.”  In this seminar, delegates were encouraged to think about what is important to them, what energizes them, and how to put that energy into their own communities for the better.

After dinner, delegates got to blow of steam at our Monday Night Activity where they played fun games  – Steal the Bacon, Lava, and an MLW favorite – SPOONS! Staff took this time to observe how delegates work, play, and solve problems together.

Next was what typically turns out to be everyone’s favorite activity every day – Tuning –  where delegates worked in small groups with out staff to set their S.M.A.R.T. goals for the week, leading to the creation of stretch goals for when they get home.

One last group meeting of get-to-know games rounded out the evening. More tomorrow!

Hear From the Delegates Themselves

In lieu of our regular update, we present to you a website that the Newsletter committee created to share with you what their week has been like. Visit msel2017.weebly.com to read all about it!

Don’t forget that the Closing Ceremony will take place starting at 10:30am at the Gibson Center for the Arts, which is where check-in took place. Delegates will be dismissed following the ceremony at approximately 11:15. Don’t forget to return your key! It’s a $35 charge if you forget.

We can wait to see you tomorrow and show you what we’ve learned!

Thursday Update

Another beautiful (and humid) day in Chestertown! Thursday saw the end of Round 2 Workshops and the continuation of Mix and committees. As we near the end of our week together, delegates are beginning to put the final touches on their products and presentations.

Some highlights of the day:

In the Pressure and Decision Making workshop facilitated by Maggie and Rob, members of The Ozians searched for clues hidden around the room. However, there was a catch – certain delegates were limited by requirements such as “You can’t use your hands!” or “Keep your eyes closed” or “Stay seated.” Their fellow teammates had to effectively communicate and troubleshoot to help them navigate the room.  Activities like these help our delegates learn the value of effective communication and how to navigate challenges in a group setting.

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During recreation, delegates took a few minutes to decompress and connect with friends. Even though it may seem like a small part of the day, many delegates take this time to play games, interact with delegates from other groups and create new bonds through things like football , hula hooping and sketching.

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As is tradition, delegates spent Thursday night at the annual Variety Show. Delegates auditioned and performed their unique talents in front of the entire program. For many delegates, this was their first time standing in front of a large group. Acts included dance routines, piano solos and even a song performed on a ukulele!

With our last full day on the horizon, delegates will be completing their Mix sessions, the program-wide community service event and attending the ever popular Friday night dance.

MSEL Wednesday Update

Wednesday was a beautiful day and the start of Round 2 Workshops! Delegates took part in two of the following:

Advocacy: Delegates explore various methods of advocating, understand advocacy’s connection to communication and determine ideal roles and settings in which to advocate for a cause.

Diversity: Delegates address the differences between stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination and examine the roles they play in society.

Leadership, Power and Privilege: Delegates discuss the kinds of privilege they possess, determine the effects of privilege on the process of gaining power and reflect on how power and privilege impact their leadership.

Pressure and Decision Making: Delegates share pressures faced by today’s middle schoolers, brainstorm strategies to effective combat pressure and analyze how these strategies make a leader more effective.

After lunch, delegates enjoyed sports and board games during recreation followed by their second Mix Session of the week. During this time, delegates use the skills they’ve gained in workshops to address a challenge in a simulated project. (ex: The Athleaders have been charged with designing an inclusive Olympiad that accommodates individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities.) The sessions often start with competing ideas and a bit of confusion, but staff observe and debrief with delegates to help them determine ways to adjust their process to work effectively towards their goals.

Following Mix, delegates enjoyed Tuning and continued to make progress on their S.M.A.R.T. goals for the week. They often get feedback from their tuning group to help them identify opportunities to work towards their goal while on site.

In committees, delegates worked on their individual projects to begin preparing for their end-of-week products. For example, the Variety Show and Closing Ceremony are  all completely planned by delegates and offer a unique and fun experience that reflects the personality of this year’s delegate class.

After dinner and a round of group games, delegates got to enjoy Messy Games Night! Delegates played competition games with all kinds of messy supplies and by the end of the night, most were sporting a shaving cream beard or face mask. And of course, what Messy Games Night would be complete without a water balloon fight?! Needless to say, everyone was asked to shower tonight. :)

Delegates ended the night with a hall meeting to wind down and reflect on the day. On deck for Thursday: the second half of Round 2 Workshops,  Mix Session 3 and the Variety Show!

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messy2

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New Pictures!

Here are some photos of yesterday and today. Stay tuned for our next update!

The Ozians get to know each other better by playing Tell the Truth.

The Ozians get to know each other better by playing Tell the Truth.

The Lost Delegates come up with their own definition of Diversity.

The Lost Delegates come up with their own definition of Diversity.

The Athleaders learn about Advocacy - what it is, why it's important in our daily lives, and what it means as a part of our leadership toolbox.

The Jedis learn about Advocacy – what it is, why it’s important in our daily lives, and what it means as a part of our leadership toolbox.

Athleaders do an activity to learn how our ideas connect us.

Athleaders do an activity to learn how our ideas connect us.

 

Monday/Tuesday Wrap Up!

First of all, here are the team pictures!

The Ozians

The Ozians

The Lost Delegates

The Lost Delegates

The Athleaders

The Athleaders

The Jedis

The Jedis

This morning, delegates had Round Two of yesterday’s workshops – Motivation & Empowerment, Self Awareness & Identity, and Leadership 101. See previous post for content details.

This afternoon, a third workshop was added to the schedule – Communication and Professionalism. Delegates learned the difference between verbal and non verbal communication, and how to utilize professionalism to gain respect in different contexts.

The weather stayed nice so we had outdoor recreation after dinner. Frisbee, football, hoola hooping, bubble-blowing, and other activities allowed delegates to take a break from the day’s structured activity.

In Tuning, delegates worked toward setting their S.M.A.R.T. goals for the week, leading to the creation of stretch goals for when they get home.

Our evening activity was a favorite – the Tuesday Night Dance! A game room was also set up for those who didn’t want to shake a leg.

Coming up tomorrow, the first day of Round Two workshops which will include Pressure & Decision Making; Leadership, Power, & Privilege; and Diversity.