Military, Leadership, and the Outdoors -- My Week as an Honor Code Camp Counselor
Recently, I performed as a camp counselor for Honor Code! United States Service Academy Preparatory and Leadership Camps. This military summer camp helps aspiring high school students plan, prepare, and apply to our nation's five U.S. Service Academies -- USMA at West Point, USNA at Annapolis, USAFA in Colorado Springs, USCGA in New London, and USMMA in Kings Point.
I have previously performed in this role, as well as been an instructor for their classroom sessions. However, because of my summer commitment as a Sierra Club intern, I was unsure whether I would be able to serve the camps. Fortunately, because Sierra Club Outdoors is committed to getting military families and veterans outdoors, I was able to participate in the camp held at the United States Naval Academy.
My recent experience with the Sierra Club's Outdoors Program opened my eyes to the similarities of the two programs, especially in the areas of leadership development, military family issues, childhood health, fitness, and the development of outdoor skills.
Sierra Club Outdoors works to ensure military families and veterans are able to enjoy the land they fight to preserve. As part of this effort, Sierra Club Outdoors also has a leadership-training component to further develop outdoor programs for military veterans and families. Sierra Club Outdoors takes the position that many military families face challenges that may be mitigated or even eliminated through service-personnel access and enjoyment of the great outdoors, parks, forests, and a variety of public and private lands –- including wilderness.
Honor Code! students who are interested in attending a United States Service Academy participate in leadership training that stresses strong foundational precepts such as "service before self," "serving your people," and "shared hardship builds great teams." In addition, students participate in a variety of skill development and outdoor activities such as orienteering, boat trips, skydiving, and kayaking.
Furthermore, Honor Code! students are instructed on the importance of physical activity and maintaining their health by participating in outdoor activities, with a focus on "leave no trace" and "tread lightly" outdoor ethics. Similarly, Sierra Club Outdoors maintains a focus on encouraging adults and children to go outside to explore and enjoy nature. And, of course, the Sierra Club develops community leaders dedicated to serving their country through environmental education, land stewardship, and the preservation of biodiversity.
These many program similarities were apparent on many levels throughout the week. These groups are equally patriotic: committed to developing ethical leaders and preserving the values, resources and special places that define our country. I feel very honored to be a part of two amazing organizations!