At 9am on Sunday the 29th of January 23 year nine students from Doncaster Secondary College along with 2 College staff, and 7 coaches (3 from Manningham UCA and 3 from Doncaster Church of Christ and 1 from the Centre for Theology and Ministry) set off for the Peer Leadership Camp at UCA camp site Merricks Lodge.
The mini bus was buzzing with energy as a children’s book was passed around for reading as the start of exploring what it means to be a leader. On arrival, the bus was promptly unpacked and the first of five workshops to be explored over the two days began!
Over the course of the two days the coaches and the college chaplain lead and facilitated sessions on:
Engagement, participation and attention was high from 9am to 9pm on the first day not once did the young peer leaders disengage or lack attentiveness. The same energy, motivation and commitment extended into day two. This group of young people were and are phenomenal. The Peer Leaders showed wisdom beyond their years, they are insightful, courageous and hungry to learn and implement their learnings and gifts.
The Peer Leaders left camp with a tool kit equipping them for their leadership role in supporting the transition of year sevens into secondary school including working effectively in a team, facilitation of class activities, recognising and attending to emotional needs including knowing when to refer and culture setting in their school.
Towards the end of camp, we provided an opportunity for each peer leader to stand and share with the group, why they were involved in peer leadership and what they wanted to achieve and/or grow in this year. Every single young person stood and shared with the group. Some of these sharing’s included:
“I’m here because I had a really tough time transitioning from primary school to year 7 and I don’t want anyone else to go through that and I want to encourage and inspire the next year level of peer leaders.”
“I learnt through this camp that leaders aren’t born they become through experience so I want to gain experience and grow and learn in my leadership.”
“I want to show people that even though I have dyslexia I can still be a leader and build a strong community.”
“I believe everyone is equal and I don’t want one year 7 to be left behind.”
“I want the year 7’s to feel like they fit in because I didn’t feel like that but now I do.”
More than half of the students came up to the coaches and thanked us sincerely for our investment and all we offered at camp, a couple of parents also thanked us for doing the camp. Since the camp the Peer Leaders have started leading sessions with Year 7 students and the Coaches are debriefing and continuing to journey with them through the year.
The Centre for Theology and Ministry able to support and resource projects with young people in local spaces, head to https://ctm.uca.edu.au/youth and join the community on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ucayouth