Local Students Attend Rotary SLAPSHOT Leadership Program

High school students (left to right) Grace Dimmer, Chautauqua Lake Central; Sarah Tilley, Westfield Academy and Central; Gregory Lapp, Brocton Central; and Gwen Chase, Sherman Central, are shown upon arrival at The Adventure Learning Centre at Canterbury Hills in Ancaster, Ontario, during their Rotary District 7090 “SLAPSHOT” April 27-29 leadership program. Their attendance was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville. Submitted photo

Four students from area high schools participated in the Rotary District 7090 “SLAPSHOT” or “Student Leadership Award Program for Students High On Training” experience at The Adventure Learning Centre at Canterbury Hills, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada during the weekend of April 27-29. The four young leaders and their respective school districts were Gwen Chase — Sherman CSD, Gregory Lapp — Brocton CSD, Grace Dimmer — Chautauqua Lake CSD, and Sarah Tilley — Westfield Academy and CSD. Their weekend leadership camp experience was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville. Four Rotarians from this Rotary club provided the transportation to and from Ancaster.

Chase and Lapp were able to attend the May 22 dinner meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville, which was held at the Lakeshore Assembly of God Church in Westfield, to tell the members and guests who were present about their unique experience. Due to their busy schedules, Dimmer and Tilley were unable to be present.

SLAPSHOT offers 100 high school students throughout Rotary District 7090 in the U.S. and Canada the opportunity for a fun learning experience in an adventure camp that is located in the picturesque Dundas Valley Conservation Area. Its main focus is to foster the development of leadership, positive self-esteem and teamwork in youth of the ages of 15 to 18 years. This was the 13th year of this Rotary District 7090 program that promotes, honors, celebrates and fosters leadership in teens. Each Rotary club may annually sponsor up to 5 SLAPSHOT students.

Participants receive training in listening and interpersonal skills, assertiveness and problem-solving, team-building and presentation skills. Included in the experience are six meals and two overnight stays in cabins. Rotarians, motivational speakers, exceptional leaders and previous graduates of the SLAPSHOT program provide various large and small group training sessions. The program is run by members of Rotary District 7090 from Buffalo, Niagara, Hamilton and Brantford in collaboration with the expert team members from Adventureworks, who are growth facilitators and operators of a high ropes course that is a feature of the weekend’s activities.

Dan Smith, Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville Youth Services Chair, annually encourages area high school students to participate by contacting the guidance counselors and administrators of local school districts in the early spring. Each of the districts is asked to nominate one student to be a SLAPSHOT participant. The student is selected on the basis of leadership potential. The desired outcome is that program participants will gain confidence and the necessary skills that will enable them to make a positive difference in their schools, local communities and beyond.

“SLAPSHOT is uniquely a Rotary District 7090 youth experience. It was created by Past District 7090 Governor Kevin Crouse, and each year a “Crouster Award” is presented to one outstanding SLAPSHOT participant,” Smith said. “This was the 13th year of SLAPSHOT, and I am very proud about the fact the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville has had 100 percent participation in all 13 of the programs. Thank you to our Rotary Club for sponsoring many students and helping to provide transportation, and also to the parents, relatives and school officials for supporting and promoting SLAPSHOT.”

The schedule for this weekend leadership development opportunity is jam packed with talent shows, round robin programs, Adventureworks high ropes courses, teamwork speaker Joel Hilchey, as well as information on Rotary youth programs, including the Interact Club. A special speaker offered inspirational comments about overcoming challenges. Also, there were campfire presentations and preparations for the “Cabin Teen Challenge” presentations on Sunday morning. Plus, each participant was asked to make an “ABC” or “Action, Benefit or Commitment” statement during a circle debriefing session.

Participant Gwen Chase, who is a member of the Future Farmers of America Club at Sherman Central said, “I’ve been to a number of different leadership conferences, but not one where the connections and friendships among people were so strong. One of the highlights for me was the session with Joel Hilchey. We took a personality test and from that I learned a great deal. He also invited us to grab a mousetrap. It took me a while to do it, but then I overcame my fear and did. From that I learned that it’s okay to take chances. By participating in SLAPSHOT I grew as a leader and became a better communicator. The entire weekend was just so inspiring to me.”

Greg Lapp, another SLAPSHOT participant and a Brocton CSD student, stated, “Though it was very cold and rainy, I really had a good time, made a lot of friends and learned a great deal. The high ropes course was challenging, but I gained confidence from that experience. On Saturday night all of the guys in my cabin and I worked on our group presentation for the next day. Our topic was social identity. It was a great team building activity, and it helped me to improve my presentation skills.”

SLAPSHOT reflects Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.” The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville congratulates future leaders Gwen Chase, Gregory Lapp, Grace Dimmer and Sarah Tilley on being graduates of the Rotary District 7090 SLAPSHOT 2018 program. For more information about SLAPSHOT, see rotary70909.org/sitepage/what-is-slapshot or contact Dan Smith at dsmith4416@gmail.com.