The College of Staten Island Student Government recently held a student leader retreat with more than 40 CSI student leaders at the Villa Roma Resort and Conference Center in Callicoon, NY.
The three-day retreat, titled “Building Stronger Teams,” was comprised of many members of the CSI Student Government, orientation leaders, Emerging Leaders Program participants, and members of many campus student clubs. The program was facilitated by Teamworks founder and President, Kristin Skarie, an international speaker, educator, and entrepreneur with 25 years of team-building experience, and members of the Office of Student Life team.
CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. A. Ramona Brown were on hand for the second day of the retreat and shared a 45-minute presentation on leadership principles and the obstacles that many good leaders face.
In all, the retreat was about “building up the community of the CSI campus,” said Debi Kee, Associate Director of Student Life/Activities. “We want to teach them how to be great leaders on campus and beyond college.”
The retreat was based on the book Good to Great by Jim Collins that aims to describe how companies transition from being average companies to great companies and how companies can fail to make the transition. Skarie translated the fundamental principles of what made many U.S. companies “great” over a sustained period to the needs of student leadership. The major points taken from the book were that of Level-Five Leadership and How to Get the Right People on the Bus. These concepts translate to student leadership because they involve learning to be humble, yet sustaining the drive to do what needs to be done for the most benefit for the group and how to identify the right people for the right jobs.
Some examples of the activities performed are the “Compass Activity,” which aided the students in identifing the types of leadership styles in which they are strongest and “Moving Teams Forward,” which taught the students the next steps in sharing their leadership styles to others on campus.
This is the eighth year of the retreat and it focused on exploring communication style and learning about and applying team member’s individual strengths. Another focus of the event was to teach students how to expand their network and maximize recruitment potential. “This year’s group was incredible,” said Kee. “Many of the students formed strong relationships that will help them develop even further beyond their college careers.” She went on to discuss the importance of holding the retreat off campus. “We take them out of their comfort zone,” Kee said. “It (staying off campus) also gives the students the chance to experience a residential campus environment.”
The student retreat, funded by Student Government and the SG Club Commission through Student Activity Fees, accomplishes many things, not the least of which is giving the participating students the opportunity to leave behind their busy lives and focus on becoming stronger campus leaders, which will in turn, make them better leaders in their communities and careers. The students not only picked up valuable leadership skills but earned friends for life, two aspects of college life that are not always present in college brochures.