Area students take charge as leaders at summer camp

August 28, 2013

By Administrator

With the start of the 2013-14 school year on the immediate horizon, several students at Eastside Catholic School and Skyline High School are looking to make an impression on their first days back in the classroom.

Fifteen students from Eastside Catholic, and another eight from Skyline, participated in a popular and long-running leadership camp known as Mount Adams, one of six camps held over the summer with the support of the Association of Washington School Principals.

Students from Eastside Catholic School and Skyline High School form plateaus with their hands as they enjoy time together at the Mount Adams leadership camp in July. Contributed

Students from Eastside Catholic School and Skyline High School form plateaus with their hands as they enjoy time together at the Mount Adams leadership camp in July. Contributed

The Mount Adams camp took place July 18-23 at the Cispus Learning Center near Randle. The six-day event puts high-school students in a communal environment where they not only share sleeping quarters and meals, but learn a lot about each other and how to affect positive change within their schools.

Julia Troy, who will be a senior at Eastside Catholic, participated in the camp for a second straight year. She said this time around was a bit different because she didn’t have to spend so much time learning to feel comfortable around new people. This year, the central focus was on knowing herself as a leader.

There’s no requirement for camp participants to hold an elected office within their student government, although they are recommended and registered as part of an official student delegation.

Troy will serve as the senior class vice president at ECS, and she said she has grown much more comfortable with leadership roles. As a freshman, she took cues from student-body leaders and felt they were making a big impact on the school.

“I think it has helped that both of my parents are natural leaders, are talkative and outgoing,” she added. “Having them around me kind of eases me into that role more.”

At Mount Adams, the 350 participants were split into smaller groups, or councils. They had a seminar each night, Troy said, and there was a lot of discussion about accepting differences among people.

Karen Skoog, who teaches world languages at ECS, has been involved with the leadership camps since her days as a student, and has served as a senior counselor for much of the past 35 years.

Skoog said students are pushed to identify school-based projects which can create positive change, and something she noticed this year was the word “family” constantly coming up in conversations. To her, that meant “being a community of love” that supports all people and shuts down hurtful gossip.

“Our goal is to really create a community of kindness, but the question always goes back to what that looks like,” Skoog said. “We want the kids to be intentional in what that looks like.”

Skoog noted the three plateau schools – ECS, Skyline and Eastlake – have formed a “tri-school council” that meets every month during the school year to discuss community-building activities. They created Plateau Pink Day as a breast cancer awareness event, but it has evolved into much more in recent years – a way to set aside differences.

Troy said there’s about 130 students in the ECS senior class, and she knows everyone’s name, but she’s interested in reaching out to younger students this year. Simply saying hello in the halls and making others feel welcome can help them stand up to peer pressure and make better decisions, she felt.

“It’s the little things that make a difference and how we’re going to make people comfortable with being leaders themselves,” Troy said. “That always tends to be the ASB’s job, but we kind of realized this year at camp that we can’t have the five ASB leaders reaching out to the whole school.”

Other Eastside Catholic students who attended the Mount Adams camp were Elisha Paaga, Jacob Wells, Maddie Racine, Kyle Bastian, Daniel Carlton, Bradley Strode, Aly Sonnen, Mitchell Neale, Andrew Padilla, Tristana Leist, Molly Foley, Michael Storie, Nick Reasoner and Katie Bacich.

The Skyline students in attendance were Andrew Corbett, Gauri Sharma, Hamilton Wasnick, Jake Barokas, Sarika Ghangurde, Kristina Helling, Toria Baker and Tony Elevathingal.

Additionally, graduates of both schools served on the camp counseling staff: Erik Skoog, AJ Hostak and Luke Janicki of Eastside Catholic; and Kati Simpson and Olivia Fuller of Skyline.

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