In April 2021, Edmund Rice Camps SA (ERCSA) ran its first-ever LEAD Program. LEAD is all about providing Teens opportunities for Leadership, Experiences, Aspiration, and Development.
The first LEAD was designed for young men aged 12-15. It focused on activities and conversations that developed their leadership skills, provided experiences, and provided space for aspiration and personal development.
The program created a safe space for the boys to consider what kind of men they wanted to be and reflect on what they valued in themselves and in their lives. It saw participants engaged in physical challenges like hiking up Mt. Lofty in the Adelaide Hills, and emotional challenges like making a Vision Board of who they want to be. In the program evaluation, volunteers commented on the many moments of impact and change they witnessed.
“Many activities such as “vision boards” and “affirmation” sessions allowed the campers to reflect on their purpose as young men, and how they wanted to either change/evolve into a productive member of society through reflecting on how they can contribute to the world around them in a positive way, just as we as leaders example to them on the Camps,” said one volunteer.
Another said that it “…allowed the boys to have the opportunity to understand through the leadership activities that they are valuable enough to guide others in a group setting. It was amazing to see this opportunity be presented to them, as it was evident that they were not used to the belief in their character.” Later in the year, ERCSA ran a version of the program for young women, which also proved to be a success.