Few are born as natural leaders. Is it a practical goal for everyone to become a leader? What are the qualities of a leader and how do they change circumstantially? What is a leader anyway?
We will delve into these questions by identifying leadership styles, personality types, team dynamics and communication skills while giving students regular opportunities to lead and practice the supporting roles of a well-functioning team.
The Adventure & Leadership Gap Year Program is all about enhancing student's personal strengths, learning to work within a team and developing the characteristics of a leader best suited to our own personality type. The Irish Gap Year team works with students to achieve these goals through a combination of interactive workshops, student-leading, group projects, team building games, role modelling and reflective practices.
These principles are interwoven into every aspect of the program to support organic personal growth so that every adventure, surf session, kayaking tour, pub night or student led meal becomes a personal growth opportunity.
There are four fun and interactive half-day workshops during the first four weeks of the Adventure & Leadership Program taught by Irish Gap Year Director Ryan Allen. The workshops have been created using the best of our teams experience and supporting material from Dr O'Reilly. Each workshop is paired with light hearted, thought provoking activities designed to allow students to lead, explore group dynamics, role play and enhance their understanding of leadership.
Leadership workshop titles include:
- 'Know Thyself'' - Personality types and my role within the team
- So What is a Leader Anyway?' - Leadership types and how they change circumstantially
- 'Group Dynamics - The Team and the Individual': How groups funtion in various settings, team dynamics and types of teams
- 'Communication Skills' - Verbal and non verbal communication, active listening and body language
Our workshops are based on the introduction of essentail leadership qualities followed by group discussion and team-games / group challenges that will reinforce the workshops topics.
Expect the unexpected and come with an open mind!
Throughout the Adventure & Leadership Program students will rotate the role of student leader every three days. This allows students to develop an understanding of their own personal leadership style and work on their strengths and weaknesses with their peers. Our Program Leaders work with students both to model leadership and to help with some of the 'brass tacks' aspects of being leader such as organizing trips around the country or camping outings.
The responsibilities of student leaders are scaled up throughout the program and include:
- Project management and planning, delegating jobs to other team members and budgeting
- Researching, budgeting and organizing student led trips
- Leading student led trips
- Preparing student led meals
- Advocating on behalf of the group
- Overseeing house duties and chores amongst the student group
- Leading team projects
Working as a team the students learn to budget their money and time, communicate effectively, live with their peers, develop confidence, practice public speaking skills and learn conflict resolution skills to name but a few areas of growth.
Group and Student Led Projects
Group and Student-led projects see 'gappers' undertake real-time project management and planning. This requires students to develop their skills in creativity, design and planning, project management, communication and team-work.
Student projects are supported by our Program Leaders. They are both fun and challenging, and will stretch the abilities of our gappers.
In the past student projects have included organizing Government sponsored beach clean-ups in conjunction with local youth groups, hosting fundraisers for local charities at the student house, 'The zero-carbon footprint dinner challenge', student led trips to Kerry and Dublin along with much more.
Occasionally Classroom sessions serve to support project planning and formalize a work-space for our gappers to brainstorm and organize themselves. While in our non-academic classroom students will work to create mini-presentations on projects and relevant case-studies.
Team Building Exercises
Daily and impromptu team-building games are an entertaining and fun addition to Irish Gap Year's Leadership module. These games range from short and fun to more intellectually challenging problem solving challenges. All games have a little life lesson or insight. These games are peppered throughout the Program, often taking place while hiking, kayaking, camping or on the road.
The outcome of our team building is to help students exercise their creative mind, develop deeper insights into themselves and have fun!
Sometimes the best way to learn new leadership skills is to observe an experienced leader in action.
The entire Irish Gap Year team works closely with students throughout their time as student leader and during group projects. When a student needs support our program leaders are right there to assist.
Students will learn the value of reflection following projects by asking themselves questions like, ''What have I Accomplished? What can I improve for next time?, How can I apply this lesson to the larger context of my life?'' Formal group and individual time is devoted to constructive reflection with the aim of developing an appreciation for reflective practice in our students.
Additionally, there are 10 reflection hikes throughout the Adventure and Leadership Gap Year Program that focus on interesting and thought provoking topics. Reflection hikes are designed to be fun, creative and out of the ordinary! Students are invited to journal or free-think as program leaders talk them through weekly reflections in nature. Topics include visualisation & manifestation, short and long term memory access, the levels of the mind, introduction to Carl Jung's 12 Archetypes and Ken Wilbur's Witness Exercise.