Working Together to Move Forward

Posted by on Feb 1st, 2012 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Photos by Aaron PETTIGREW ABOVE: Staff Sgt. Robert Randall of the National Guard demonstrated some of the exercises that help build team work and leadership to aid kids of the Fire House develop a future leadership camp.

Leadership camp – designed by high school students – helps kids make positive changes now and for the future.


At the Fire House, the youth center located on the property of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church, high school students gathered in the parking lot Tuesday night. The students were engaged in various team-building exercises, supervised by Staff Sgt. Robert Randall of the National Guard, in preparation for a leadership camp taking place in this spring.

The leadership camp will be designed by Fire House kids for a site in San Luis Obispo. The camp will be a three-day event, although it is hoped that a week-long event can be put together in the future. Much of the uncertainty has to do with scheduling, but a focus on the kind of team building exercises the students participated in Tuesday night will certainly be part of the leadership camp.

“These exercises show them the difference between working as an individual and working as a team,” Randall said. “The activities will be based on communication and teamwork. At the same time, it helps them develop towards seeing a problem, forcing the issue and trying to solve the problem. It teaches them to become a leader, so that they can start coordinating people throughout their school, throughout their community, so that they can make positive changes within their lives and within their community.”

The exact leadership and team building activities are still being discussed by the Fire House kids, however Randall did mention a rock-climbing wall, a rappelling tower, a land navigation course and obstacle courses already available at Camp San Luis Obispo, among other things.

“It takes two things in order to pass any of these obstacles,” Randall said, speaking before the students at the Fire House. “You must communicate with each other and you must work with each other.”

On Tuesday, the students participated in four activities set up by Randall. These included the “Tomahawk Walk,” a series of long thin wooden boards which the students had to traverse, often by holding onto another student for balance. There were also the “trolleys,” made up of two long boards, much like elongated skis, one for each foot. The students encircled the parking lot with up to six students on the trolleys, a lurching human caterpillar with the lead student directing traffic, calling out for the left foot forward, then the right, and so on.

“Paving the way” forced the students to use their memory skills as they walked along a path of up to 20 identical squares. Students needed to memorize the correct path from one to the other and none could leave until all of them had completed the course correctly.

Students worked the “trolley,” slowly inching their way forward.

Students worked the “trolley,” slowly inching their way forward.

Lastly, there was the “handcuffs” puzzle, in which two students were bound by ropes and then their arms are intertwined. Pairs of students struggled mightily, many declaring it impossible. Randall calmly revealed the solution, which as with many such solutions, is much simpler than originally thought.

“I gave you guys this puzzle to show you there is always a way,” said Randall. “You just have to find that way. Anything you do, there’s a possibility of getting it done.”

For more information on the leadership camp, email Mary O’Keefe at

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