Every year Castleton’s Student Government Association goes on a retreat to improve leadership abilities. They play team building exercises, listen to lectures from faculty, and even present their own PowerPoints to the group over the course of the two-day excursion.
The retreat is held at the Sagamore Resort on Lake George, a very quiet and peaceful setting to focus on their own improvement.
“My goal is that everybody involved learns something new about leadership and about each other,” said SGA President James Wolfe. “I really hope that I get see a different side of people.”
They arrived at the resort Friday night, but the real nitty gritty leadership building didn’t start until Saturday morning. After playing some team-building games and eating breakfast, the group sat down for their first round of presentations. Vice President of Academics Natasha Lewis kicked off the morning with a presentation on mixed messages. Dean Proulx and Bridgit McHugh both gave their own lectures to the group as well.
“There’s a lot of great information to bring back to school to help with our leadership in SGA and beyond,” said CAB member Sierra Boutin.
“Communication has really been helpful,” said fellow CAB member Alex Resch. “Communication is important, it’s key.”
The proper way to have those hard talks and how to correctly communicate how you feel was the first presentation after lunch. Isabel Gogerty led that discussion and was soon followed by both Sarah Dunbar and Abby Mayo. They talked about the importance of knowing when to give up and the struggles of mental health problems on college campuses.
“I’m a member of the e-board so it’s part of my responsibility and taking on the leadership roles is something I’ve always loved doing,” said Mayo. “I was very nervous, and it was probably really obvious, but I think it really went well, and I was really proud of all the people that got involved.”
Sunday was started with a joint presentation by Kendra Ross and Kaylee Boutin, followed by an election time breakdown by Kara Blakeman. Finally, the weekend was capped off by a presentation from Wolfe, aptly named “The Last SGA Lecture,” because it was his last retreat as a Castleton student.
“I think we’ve learned a lot of really great transferable skills, we’ve talked a lot about today, especially stuff like communication,” said Wolfe. “When we get back, I do hope our communication does become more efficient and clear, and I hope that this retreat gives members an additional perspective to live by.”
When the group finished packing their things to return home and headed off, many of the members felt they were going back more prepared for the challenges ahead than when they arrived.
“I’m going to take the skills I learned here and apply them to my life,” said Ross.
In other SGA news:
Wolfe said SGA has several projects underway with one involving connecting with other college student governments within the Vermont College System to share ideas.
He also noted that Treasurer Isabel Gogarty was recently elected to be president of the Vermont State College Student Association, where she will facilitate meetings between SGA members from different colleges to share what they are doing on their own campuses.
“That’s a really big honor,” Wolfe said.
Additionally, SGA has been working on getting many educational events and a CPR certification course for students, Wolfe said.
He mentioned working with Director of Career Services Renee Beaupre White to plan events to educate students on topics related to professionalism.
Later in the semester, they are hoping to have a club council meeting where all club leaders will get together and talk about what they are doing in their clubs, Wolfe said.
SGA is also working to create a partnership with the MINT makerspace in Rutland.
He also stressed that SGA elections are coming soon. Applications are due March 29 and voting will take place April 22-26. Currently there are two available delegate positions for anyone interested in joining, Wolfe said.
He also stressed SGA members love it when people show an interest in having their voice heard.
“We really, really love when people come in to talk to us and give us things to work on,” Wolfe said, adding that it allows SGA to help students more.