Building Confidence, Creating Leaders

Eighth graders step out of their comfort zones and leap into new challenges. Click for photos.

As the oldest students in the Middle School, ODA’s eighth graders know that they play an important role as leaders and role models for the younger students. To prepare the class for this responsibility and ready them for the increased rigors of their final year in Middle School, eighth graders spend a few days away at ODA’s Leadership Camp held at DaySpring Conference Center. The students explore the high and low ropes courses and complete a multitude of group activities focused on team building, communication, and problem solving.
“Leadership Camp is one of the most important events that occur during a student's eighth grade year. Leadership Camp creates connections between the advisor and the advisory group by building trust, collaboration, and communication,” said Mrs. Kathy Dozier. “What is learned in Leadership Camp by the students and the advisor is then utilized in the classroom. Having attended the camp for many years, I always look forward to it because I know how beneficial it is for the students and the teachers. I am always impressed and amazed by the eighth grade team's willingness to spend three days and two nights away from home in order to ensure the success of the program.”

One of the highlights of the trip is the senior visit–when a group of senior class volunteers come to the camp to share with their younger classmates what to expect during their eighth grade year and when they matriculate to the Upper School. Each senior, including Johnny Robinson '23 and Ian Strang '23, met with the advisory groups, giving the eighth graders the opportunity to ask questions about clubs, athletics, classes, and anything they were curious about. The seniors also introduced the Thunder Cup challenge–ODA’s annual yearlong class competition comprised of games of skill, talent, trivia, athleticism, and creativity.

"The eighth-grade leadership camp is a great tradition to connect the Upper School and Middle School," said Ian. "We may share a campus but there is not a lot of interaction between eighth graders and seniors. It was a pleasure to be part of this tradition to answer questions for the eighth graders as well as share some of the lessons I learned from eighth grade and my high school career."

“It was interesting to hear what some of the kids had questions about. Some asked about test prep, others asked about college,” Johnny added. “It was so nostalgic to go back. I remember going to Leadership Camp at DaySpring myself. I can't wait to go back in a few months when we visit together as the senior class.”

After their return to campus, teachers use the lessons students learned during the program to remind them of their strength and ability to persevere as they face challenges and set goals throughout the school year. As a key component of the program, these new skills help students to have enough confidence to go a bit beyond their comfort level which has proven to be a great motivator inside as well as outside the classroom.

The Out-of-Door Academy

LOWER SCHOOL |  Historic Siesta Key Campus  |  Pre-K – Grade 5
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LOWER SCHOOL |  Lower School Campus on Clark Road  |  Pre-K – Grade 1
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  |  Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch  |  Grades 6 – 8 |  Grades 9 – 12
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