February 27, 2017
It is the belief of Endicott College’s on-campus club, the LIGHThouse Leadership Society, that all students can be leaders. The three pillars of LIGHThouse are: Self-reflection: the increase of self-awareness by examining the way these concepts relate to the self and exploring one's own biases; Awareness: the sharing of information to better understand concepts related to respect, civility, diversity, and the impact on decision making and behaviors; Activism: the use of our developed skills to create meaningful social change at Endicott and beyond.
While LIGHThouse has been on campus since 2010, its popularity has continued to grow – mainly due to the annual LIGHThouse retreat. Held each fall at Camp Cody in Freedom, NH, the retreat is a three-day “escape” from campus where students remove themselves from all social media and electronics (no phones, no computers, and no watches) and engage with one another in a way they are not typically comfortable with. The end goal of the weekend is to have students come realize their abilities to lead through Learning, Inspiring, Guiding, Helping and Teaching.
To participate in the annual retreat, students must submit an application, which remains anonymous throughout the entire selection process. LIGHThouse welcomes applications from students of all years, regardless of whether-or-not you are an active member of the Club. Each year, 40 students are selected anonymously by LIGHThouse student facilitators. This year, it took eight facilitators nearly eight hours to narrow down the 97 submitted applications to 40.
Over the course of the weekend retreat, students are divided into four groups of 10 where they participate in non-traditional leadership activities, as opposed to ice breakers and trust falls. The primary focus is on workshops that are run by the eight student facilitators. The students are challenged through these activities that raise self-awareness, require personal reflection, and encourage them to be active as leaders on campus and in their communities. The objective is to have students see the leaders that they already are and to nurture those strengths in a way that builds a community amongst one another and then translates upon their return.
To date, there have been eight LIGHThouse retreats with 285 students having attended in total. The LIGHThouse Leadership Society has seen a steady rise in applications each year – the first retreat only having 30 applicants.
To get a first-hand look at the impact the retreat has on students, we connected with two students, Demarise Edwards (’17) who attended the retreat in 2014 and Julie Sanders (’20) who attended in 2016:
- What do you consider your biggest accomplishment/achievement from the retreat?
Demarise: My biggest achievement was gaining a better understanding of who I am as a person and finding the confidence I needed to help others, as well as myself, succeed in many areas of life.
Julie: Gaining the courage to make changes in my life in order to become the best/happiest version of myself.
- What was the most difficult part of the retreat for you?
Demarise: The most difficult part of the retreat was being completely open and honest with myself as well as others. This, however, became the most rewarding as well. Once I was able to own my story and become comfortable in sharing it, I was able to form the most genuine connections with the people around me and help them to find confidence in their own stories.
Julie: Accepting the fact that life isn't perfect, and that it is ok that life isn't perfect. What matters is how you react to those imperfections.
- What is your advice for students who are considering applying for the 2017 retreat?
Demarise: My advice for students who are considering applying for the 2017 retreat is to be as genuine as possible. If it is meant to be, it will happen. Facilitators look for authenticity and creativity in application answers. Also, there is not one type of person meant for the retreat. No two people will have the same experience, but every single person, no matter who you are, will gain something from it.
Julie: Be open, be honest, be kind, be yourself. Be prepared to enter a community where love and respect are the number 1 priority. Most of all, be prepared to have a lifelong obsession with lighthouses and your 40 something new best friends.
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