“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” —Lao Tzu
The second half-day camp of Little Bellas was easier for me than the first week of camp. I’d first like to remind you that the camp is by no means easy. I woke up every day around 6 AM in order to get breakfast and drive my 50-minute commute to Catamount. I’m a college student; I’m not supposed to wake up that early! Working at a camp with 25 8-10 year olds is not easy at all. They have so much energy… So much… It was exhausting. Parents you can attest to that, I’m sure. However, I learned from Sabra about what good leadership really means, and that made camp a lot easier.
Little Bellas camps can go any number of ways. We have a general idea of what we want to do, but like I’ve previously mentioned the girls really dictate what we do. Initially, I was confused about how a camp with so little structure could still run effectively. I love structure. I always wear a watch. I plan my days out to the minute occasionally. I make “To do” lists like there’s no tomorrow.
However, Little Bellas camps are so effective in achieving goals of empowering girls, promoting healthy lifestyle, and creating camaraderie for girls on bikes because of great leadership, and sometimes, great leadership means letting go. Sabra runs a great camp because she’s a great leader and ultimately a great facilitator. I learned this week that as a leader, facilitating doesn’t mean controlling every situation, having a detailed scheduled, and being uber organized. Instead, it means giving up absolute control in order to help the group create a sense of community. It means reading the mood, time, and place to best decide how to proceed. It means having a plan, but being willing to change. It means being flexible and spontaneous.
This week I was able to take a lot more initiative than I did in the first week because I learned about how to be a better leader. For example, when Sabra was checking kids and talking to their parents, I could start playing games with the girls. Sabra was able to deals with logistics (flat tires, handing out jerseys, etc.) more effectively when I took the girls off her hand. Games are essential in Little Bellas. A lot of times, the girls come to camp shy and reserved, and games serve as good icebreakers. By the end of camp, games serve as a perfect break for tired legs.
This week I learned how important it is to facilitate even games well. By this I mean making sure all the girls were included, making sure every girl got a chance to be “it” if they wanted to be it, and making sure everyone was having fun. Like I previously mentioned, I learned how essential it is to let go of control occasionally. If I tried to control every game, and make sure every girl was following every rule, it wasn’t fun. I couldn’t outright pick every game, that wasn’t what the girls wanted, and that wasn’t fun. While I didn’t want to play “Frog Detective” for the millionth time that day, the girls loved it. Though we couldn’t remember what beats what in Bear, Ninja, Cowgirl (cool version of group rock, paper, scissors), we still had a lot of fun deciding together what to throw next, and running away screaming regardless of what the other group threw.
One day we were playing a game called Single Track Pursuit, where we broke into groups of 4-5 and the “it” group had to chase and find the other groups. My group was “it”. We were fast and caught up to some groups quickly. I had a pretty good sense of where the other groups were, but instead of stepping in and telling them, I let the girls decide what direction to turn next. The direction they chose was completely wrong, but in the process of deliberating and deciding they became a team. All in all, it was another great week of Little Bellas. I learned a lot and had so much fun. I am pretty sure the girls would say the same.