Nearly two dozen Georgetown High School students spent a recent weekend under police supervision.
But, it’s not what you may think. These teenagers were taking part in the Georgetown Police Department’s Leadership Retreat which took place at the Santee Cooper conference facility in Wampee, near Moncks Corner.
The Student Leadership Program has been taking place for several years but this is the first time the weekend getaway format was used. In the past the students met in Georgetown weekly for six to eight weeks, said Police Capt. Nelson Brown.
The purpose of the retreat was to help the students strengthen their sense of community, improve communication skills in small and large groups, become more effective motivators and to enhance their problem-solving techniques.
Student Cody Floyd said he went to the Feb. 8-10 retreat because he felt it would be a great experience.
“I wanted to learn to be a better leader in the community,” Floyd said. “I learned how to achieve goals through team work.”
Brandon Cribb Jr. echoed those remarks. He said while at the retreat he learned to communicate better in a team setting.
“I learned to focus on the overall goal,” he said.
Cameron Drayton said while he was at the retreat he was able to get to know the other students much better than he knew them previously.
He said, in her opinion, one of the best things they learned was how to “shut up and listen.”
Nia Walker said the retreat taught her the importance of “having a vision” and that “the act of one can make a difference while the acts of many can result in a powerful impact.”
Courtney Hicks said even before going to the retreat she knew she had leadership qualities.
“I want to be a better leader and have a positive impact. It helped me talk to people I normally would not talk to. And I learned to not be judgmental,” Hicks said.
Police Chief Paul Gardner said the weekend getaway has now permanently replaced the weekly sessions. Because of budget restraints the event can only take place once per year.
He said another advantage of holding everything in one weekend is a professional facilitator can be hired to conduct the sessions. This year the facilitator was Christopher Miles of Roanoke, Va. who has two decades of experience in higher education and leadership development.
Gardner said the weekend was a success because the students left “knowing how special they are and how much we respect them for making the right choices.”
By Scott Harper
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