Visit the 2011 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

Hello, my name is Ashley Strahan, and I am the Marketing Assistant at Music for All. I am guest blogging today about my first-hand experience with the leadership weekend experience.

Today brought students closer to the end of Leadership Weekend Experience, but I believe it was the most important day of the weekend. Today, students were able to reflect on their experiences and put what they’ve learned to use, whether they participated in small group activities or were at the Taylor University “Escape to Reality” challenge course.

The challenge course allowed students to work in small groups in an outdoor setting to build trust, communication and teamwork through various activities and initiatives.

I followed a group out into the woods to watch their first challenge to test their communication and cooperation skills. The fictional setting: The treacherous Colorado River. The Story: An adventurous group of students set out on a white water rafting trip. The raft accidentally tips and knocks three members out into the river. The Challenge: To rescue the members without getting off the raft before it is too late. I watched as a group of about 10 students crowded around a barrel, careful to not overstep the boundaries laid out for them. The students used a pulley system with ropes in order to retrieve logs (the members that fell off the raft) and place them in a barrel (the raft). The group demonstrated good use of communication, cooperation and teamwork in order to defeat the challenge. At the end, the group talked about using patience with others in order to achieve the same goal. They talked about applying what they learned in a musical setting and also shared that their strategy was to give and take. Sometimes you have to give in order for others to take, and sometimes you have to take when others give.

I found myself relating to the students and reflecting on my time here at Music for All and our staff. In order for Music for All to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences, we communicate, cooperate and work together as a team. Just like the pulley-system, we know when to pull and when to let go – we know when to follow and when to take the lead.

Not only did the students participate in small group activities, they also were able to take part in a high ropes course, 20-35 feet above ground level. I watched as students flew down the zip line, participated in the “flying squirrel,” and completed an obstacle course up in the trees. The high ropes course taught the importance of support, encouragement and trust and, once again, teamwork.

Leadership Weekend Experience is a time for students to grow and learn about what it takes to become a leader not only in musical settings, but also in life. The lessons learned throughout this weekend will continue to be useful down the road when they enter college and the workforce.