June 30, 2011
Texas Tech University has invited 36 San Antonio-area 11th-graders to Lubbock to attend its first Camp L.E.A.D, a leadership education camp designed to sharpen leadership abilities and build personal character within young students.
Alix, a member of her high school's drill team, said she wants to utilize her experience at Camp L.E.A.D. to gain better leadership skills that would help make her a better dance team member.
Russ Bookbinder, Texas Tech University System vice chancellor and former San Antonio Spurs executive, conjured up the idea of Texas Tech University hosting a leadership-based summer camp for students entering their junior years of high school.
“This is a pilot for us,” said Bookbinder. “We need to germinate seeds and throw things out there, so I floated the idea of an all expenses paid leadership camp for students and everyone was extremely supportive and helpful in putting it together.”
Bookbinder said it took a while to put the project together because he needed to get the necessary people on board, build a census and raise funds for the students to attend Camp L.E.A.D.
He met with four area independent school district superintendents — Northside's John Folks, North East's retiring Richard Middleton, Alamo Heights' Kevin Brown and Boerne's John Kelly — and asked for their support throughout the process of building the camp.
“We asked the high school guidance counselors from 19 different high schools to pick two representatives (students) from each school to attend Camp L.E.A.D.,” said Bookbinder.
“They didn't need to be 4.0 students; we just wanted well-rounded kids with great leadership potential.”
All of the funds for Camp L.E.A.D. were privately donated.
“We had some people from San Antonio donate and a good number of people from Lubbock,” said Bookbinder.
“We weren't asking for big dollars, but we figured if we got a little bit of money from a good amount of people then it would all come together.”
Paramo is involved with his high school debate team, and said he and his friends spend their free time volunteering at several local non-profit organizations.
“I enjoy volunteering. It makes me feel good because I'm helping other people,” Paramo added.
“The students coming to Lubbock are really going to get a great experience,” exclaimed Bookbinder. “The skills they are learning are skills that will last them a lifetime.”
During the four day/three night program, the students will participate in a variety of activities such as individual strength assessments, sessions on developing better listening and questioning skills, team leadership exercises and ropes courses.
New Jersey Nets head coach and former Spur Avery Johnson will be the guest speaker at Camp L.E.A.D.
“Me and Avery have been friends for a long time,” said Bookbinder. “When I asked him if he would be interested in helping me out with a leadership camp he instantly said yes.”
“I put in my application for Camp L.E.A.D. because I wanted to become a better leader for my athletic teams at school.”
Bookbinder and his developing team say they are committed to making Camp L.E.A.D. a fun and worthwhile experience for all of the students in attendance.
“At camp, we're using a book called ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team' (by Patrick Lencioni) as a part of our training,” explained Bookbinder. “It's the same book we used to train the Spurs.”
At camp July 7 to 10, the students will be given a copy of the book, which discusses the absence of trust and commitment in a team.
“Avery's speech will be about the positive things you need to make a team work,” said Bookbinder. “We want to bring the book to life for the students. That's why we decided to bring Avery in.”
Young is a former basketball player recovering from a back injury at her high school. She said she hopes to gain better leadership skills at Camp L.E.A.D. and make new friends staying in the dorms on campus.
“From the student's perspective, they have four days to learn great leadership, and if we do our jobs right then these students will walk away with nothing but good things to say about their experience at camp,” said Bookbinder.
“Who knows, after this camp some of these kids may even be interested in attending Texas Tech University for college.”