Student leader hones skills at Camp 43

Hannah Wimberly, 17, likes to take charge at two high school campuses, so attending a camp focused on leadership seemed like the logical thing to do.

The senior takes her classes at Jack E. Singley Academy and serves as Junior ROTC logistics officer for the Cardinal Battalion at MacArthur High School in Irving.

Last year, she attended Camp 43: Leader of One, Leader of Many at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at SMU. She recently answered questions about her experiences at that camp.

Why did you decide to apply?

I decided to apply because I have always had a proclivity for leadership. I wanted to learn more about the art thereof. I am known for habitually taking charge in most situations presented to me. I wanted to improve my efficiency and capabilities. My AP U.S. History teacher is a docent at the Bush Library, and told me, and my class about Camp 43. He thought I would greatly benefit from the knowledge gleaned during my attendance. I also love history so getting to spend three days in a museum fascinated, and excited me.

What was your experience at the camp like?

Day one began with us milling around the room talking and comparing life experiences. We had to step out of our comfort zone and share who we were and what we did with people we had not previously known.

We engaged each other in ethical debates, and as a whole participated in ‘The Situation Room Scenario.’ This Scenario cast all participants as high level government officials trying to solve a crisis. The crisis being an assassinated president, and a vice president who is on a plane en route. This exercise pushed us. It pushed us to evaluate our own weaknesses and strengths.

There were guest speakers who brought stories from their own lives of triumph in the face of adversity, and tales of success against high odds. Their personalities differed as much as their backgrounds. The diversity in speakers mirrored the diversity in the room.

On the second day of Camp 43, one of the docents gave a comprehensive lecture on the different personalities. His main point was the importance of modulating one’s own approach and personalities to fit situations, without compromising identity or conviction.

I loved every minute of the camp. I wish I could attend again this coming summer.

What difference has it made in your life?

I have made an effort to incorporate the personality modulation ideal into my everyday life, especially where my cadets are concerned. This year, as opposed to years past, my cadets respond in a more positive manner when I cater to their learning, and leadership styles. For instance, my Academic Team is not the most disciplined bunch. Instead of simply presenting them with a mission to complete, and being straight forward (as suits my own personality), I give them reasons as to why the task at hand will benefit them (advancement to nationals, pleasing the Colonel, et cetera…). My team is better for my experience at Camp 43.

The same lesson has aided me in persuading my friends to do, or to no do something. As the ‘mom friend’ of all my friend groups, I am often drug into drama, given unneeded information, and told tale after tale of someone else’s business. When advising my friends if I cater to their personality, they are more responsive.

What part(s) of the camp did you enjoy/benefit from the most?

The last day of Camp 43 was the most fun. We were given an assignment to plan a hypothetical high school reunion. In our groups we toiled over non-existent decor, and equally fictional entertainment. For hours, there we all sat working together. We did not know one another. We did not all get along, but every group was able to present a plan for this would be reunion. I enjoyed watching this unfold. After every group presented to a board of docents, feedback was given. “YOU ALL DID HORRIBLE!” came the words no attendee expected to hear. We had all been discussing our projects and were all pleased. Everyone thought they had done well, even if only marginally so. A skill I learned in JROTC came into play here. I am exceptionally good at keeping my mouth shut when I am being reprimanded, regardless of the severity. This particular docent had been rubbing me the wrong way for three days. We had worked hard on these projects. We received no positive feedback, only one negative comment, “You all did horrible!” I not only resisted the urge to correct his grammar, but also the later seconded urge to completely tell him off. This incident reinforced an already learned lesson. I benefitted most from the reinforcement, and enjoyed the group project most.

What would you tell other students who might consider applying to attend the camp?

Go into the Camp free of prejudice. You will be forced out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid of this. When you leave the space you are familiar with, you grow. Your leadership skills and your interpersonal skills have room to expand.

Don’t try to be too serious. You are there to learn, and to have fun. Don’t be so wrapped up in trying to appear mature and professional that you miss out on your peer to peer interactions.

Be open and honest in your application essays. The board choose the attendees is looking for originality and uniqueness. Don’t worry about how you will compare to others. Put your best self forward.

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