Junior Lydia Podlesak describes her time at Key-Leader

Lydia Podlesak, Assistant Print Editor


Having the opportunity to be sent to Key-Leader by the Kiwanis organization was an experience I am beyond grateful for. The weekend not only gave me insight on quality leadership characteristics but ultimately taught me to step out of my comfort zone.

Driving to the Faholo camp center in Grass Lake, Michigan was intimidating for me- besides the one other Fenton student attending, everyone was a complete stranger. On top of that there was no guarantee of rooming with the other Fenton girl or being in her group. I knew that I would have to use my extroverted personality to ensure that I would enjoy the experience by making new friends.

Upon my arrival, all doubts diminished Instantaneously. Entering the campsite, I was automatically greeted by a group of student facilitators and former attendees that guided me through registration and to the cabins. These students were some of the most genuine people I have encountered. Every question was asked with sincere curiosity and interest; conversations flowed with little effort.

We were all students from different schools, different backgrounds and different stories but we all had one thing in common: it was our goal to make the weekend memorable. Getting to interact with students who’ve experienced different things from me and getting to listen to them was my favorite part of the whole experience. A week later, and I am still in contact with the people I met— even though vast miles separate us from the top of the mitten state to the bottom.

Respect, risk, integrity, and community. Those were the core leadership values that we focused on during the weekend. The majority of the day, we spent in the seminar room listening to speeches, watching videos. Although sitting through some of the lectures was tedious, the interactive activities compensated for it. Each interactive activity put one of the core values to the test. One activity that especially resonated with me was the trust fall. It wasn’t your typical feet on ground trust fall, but from a platform five feet off the ground onto a safety net of linking arms.  

An experience that was completely new to me was bunking in the cabins. I had never been to a campsite that mirrors one you see straight out of a movie — it was surreal. More so, the girl who was my bunk buddy was a foreign exchange student from France stayed with me and the last hours of the night and shared her stories from France which reminded how different our cultures truly are. On top of that, every money started with a voluntary 6 a.m morning hike, which says a lot about the students that attended the camp

This weekend was one to remember. I will forever be grateful for Kiwanis for sending me to the camp and giving me the opportunity to meet such genuine people and learn such lifelong skills.