Getting inspired at the Volunteer Leadership Camp!

Volunteers from across all areas of the Student Union were invited to a volunteering leadership camp on the 30th and 31st October. The overnight residential held at Waddecar Scout Activity Centre aimed to develop key skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication through outdoor activities as well as skill building sessions. The jam-packed event provided volunteers with an opportunity to improve on their skills and implement what they had learnt into their clubs, societies and volunteering projects.

Camp itinerary 

Day 1

After a welcome and introduction, the first exercise was orienteering. Working in small groups, participants had to navigate to specific landmarks across the site and find symbols at each location. The session was followed by a discussion on what method each group used to reach the checkpoints and reflection on how everyone performed within the team. Later, a classroom session on team dynamics provided the opportunity to learn which team role best suited you and how you can use your specific skill set to improve team performance.

To understand the importance of communication, a Lego challenge was set. Teams had to build a structure of their choosing however each team member had a certain condition about the structure, which the other members of the team were not aware of. Without speaking the structure had to be built within 20 minutes, making sure it met each team member’s condition. A communication session then followed where participants discussed how clear communication is vital to team success and how to be confident in your communication abilities.

In the evening everyone joined in on a fun Murder Mystery game, working in teams to unravel the mysterious clues to establish the identity of the murderer. This activity also provided the opportunity to implement some of the team roles learnt about earlier in the day and establish a strategy to solve the clues.

Day 2

The day began with a leadership skills based session where different leadership roles were discussed and everyone assessed which type of leader they were. Goal setting was also introduced, exploring the importance of SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timed) goals to ensure team success.

Volunteers then got to try their hand at archery, with the session hosted by the Waddecar Scout Leaders. Following this session a power/motivation workshop, exploring the different positions of power a leader can have and how motivation can be used to inspire others.

The day finished with a final activity session of rafting, rock climbing and team initiative exercises. These activities were designed to give an opportunity to use all the skills learnt over the two days to work successfully as a team and complete the task set.

How useful was the camp?

As a volunteer for the Student’s union, I was lucky enough to be invited on the overnight residential. For me, it was a great opportunity to meet new people who are involved in different volunteering projects across the university and talk to others who are passionate about the volunteering work they do. The skills based sessions were excellent, effectively combining classroom based learning into fun interactive activities. My favourite outdoor session was the raft building exercise. As a team we managed to successfully build a raft that floated using 6 metal barrels, 2 pieces of wood and 12 lengths of rope. We did end up in the water after falling off the raft but we had got a distance away from the banks – quite an achievement for a group of amateur raft builders!

Since attending the camp, I have improved on my confidence and also awareness of how to select specific leadership styles depending on the situation. When I signed up for this opportunity, I didn’t know anyone else attending the camp but all of the people were very friendly and made everyone feel welcome.

This is an amazing opportunity to develop your skills, make new friends and have a fantastic time.

What did the other volunteers think?

A one-off Wednesday volunteer told us:

I had a fantastic 2 days at the leadership camp. I learned about different cultures as I met people from all over the world. I found the goal setting activity very useful as I think I could apply it to so many things – especially coursework as I have a tendency to leave it to the last minute without a plan of action. This leads to rushed work and lower marks – the goal setting will definitely help. The team role activity was also useful as it showed what type of strong skills I have, my weaker ones and where I could try and improve. It was also so much fun – I loved the murder mystery and the archery. I had a great time, a wonderful confidence boost and can apply the skills to many other areas at home, university and work.

A school president said:

‘The VLC was a big confidence boost to me as it showed that I have a style of leading that does not require me to be at the front. It also provided techniques to make yourself look confident when you may not be. VLC provided skills such as power posing that can be used during public speaking to come across with confidence and engage an audience.

I spent a lot of time at the VLC looking at myself and reflecting on the skills I have, I noticed I’m quite a well-rounded person but I’m going to use this knowledge to focus on a couple of areas to have something I really excel at.

Looking at the VLC it was an amazing chance to meet people from other courses and volunteering positions. It was good to see how these can all link together and how everyone can help each other.’

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