Rising seventh and eighth students “Ignite Belief” at Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP summer leadership camps

Eight hundred–eighty students from across the southeastern Oklahoma came together at Eastern Oklahoma State College over the past several weeks to develop their leadership skills, give back to their community, and begin to ignite the belief that college is in their future.

EOSC GEAR UP worked with FOCUS Training to design and deliver eight, three-day leadership camps. Because this is the first year the students are taking part in GEAR UP, the goal of the camps was to ignite the leaders within and incite positive changes in the students. Highlights of the camps included:

Community Service—students designed placemats that will be combined with meals packages sent out with Meals On Wheels of Oklahoma

Low ropes adventure course to build confidence and challenge management skills

Action planning where students set five goals related to short- and long-term academic and social success

Presentations–students gave presentations on how they plan to use their set goals to make a change in their lives and their community

Friends and fun! The camp is interactive and fun for all who participated

Camps were especially exciting for the students because they got a chance to experience what it’s like to live and work on a college campus. From living in the residence halls, having fun in the gym and pool, eating in the campus cafeteria, to working in college classrooms, the students really had the opportunity to feel like they were in college.

The leadership development sessions were as follows:

GO BIG Vision—Students were challenged with completing several tasks in a limited time. After the first time, they learned how to set and accomplish goals to be more successful in completing the task during the second round.

GO BIG Team—The students had to learn how to work as a team to build a product. They were introduced to the Teamwork Mountain, which is a step-by-step process to build, manage, and be part of an effective team.

GO BIG Talk—Students learned how to use creativity and innovation to overcome communication barriers that they may face in their schools and how to use these experiences to navigate future barriers.

GO BIG Image—Students explored the nature of self-perception and allowed teams to get a better understanding of the value of diversity and uniqueness of individuals.

GO BIG Think—Teams had to think critically and creatively to solve puzzles that forced them to harness their collective brainpower to unlock the codes.

After successfully completing all workshops and camp events, students attended a graduation where they each received a certificate. Additionally, special awards were given out for teamwork, enthusiasm and participation.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal initiative to increase the number of low-income students who enter and successfully transition into postsecondary education. Eastern will receive more than $17 million during a seven-year period to help students and educators in 39 partner schools. The camp was free to GEAR UP participants.

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