The camp is geared toward cultivating leaders in the family and consumer science professions.
Two Texas Tech University students spent a week in the nation's capital learning how to become better leaders.
Haley Raymond, an interior design major from Plainview, and Jessica Wiklund, a nutrition and dietetics major from Carrollton, attended the Leadership Honors Bootcamp in Washington, D.C., for five days in May. Both were nominated by faculty or staff in the College of Human Sciences.
The purpose of the camp is to prepare students from family and consumer science programs throughout the nation to be leaders in future jobs, service organizations and other ventures. Thirteen women spent the week attending seminars, learning leadership styles, touring D.C. and making friends.
“I had the opportunity to share my story with many of the participants, and I got to hear many of their stories,” Raymond said. “It was reassuring knowing I could open up to people in such a short amount of time. It was a major example of why you shouldn't judge someone without knowing them because we all have stories and experiences that have made us who we are.”
Cindy Villegas, the College of Human Sciences Ambassadors adviser, coordinated the trip and nominated Wiklund, who is the organization's public relations officer. She said this was the second year the college sent students to the boot camp, which includes providing a scholarship to pay a portion of the registration fees.
“We feel it is worth sending our students to enhance their leadership skills,” she said.
Both women were selected because of previously demonstrated leadership, Wiklund with the ambassadors program and Raymond as director of philanthropy for Zeta Tau Alpha and philanthropy liaison for Texas Tech's Panhellenic Council.
About the camp
The Leadership Honors Bootcamp, which began in 2004, was created to strengthen the leadership in family and consumer science programs, said camp director Nancy White. It encourages colleges to send high-achieving students, with the expectation that they will return to campus and immediately apply those lessons.
It's a grueling five days of seminars, discussions, projects and learning intended to shine a light on professions often overlooked.
“The field itself really needs visibility and awareness to keep it going,” she said.
This year only women attended, although that's unusual, White said. They generally see more women, and the family and consumer science fields tend to attract more women, but every year a few men have attended. Having all women did change the dynamic this year, she said, which made the conversations, particularly around skills like self-advocacy and conflict resolution, different from past years.
“What I saw as the greatest difference is the boosting of self-esteem and their confidence level,” she said. “We want them to be able to get in a group and say how they feel about something that's not the opinion of the group and feeling comfortable about it.
“It's almost like the unclassroom. It's very experiential.”
The students learn about leadership styles and how to work with others who have different styles as well as communication skills, leading with empathy and conflict resolution, a skill with which many struggle.
Wiklund said she appreciated the different types of leadership skills taught, including empathetic communication, team building, being open to and adapting to change and more. It wasn't what she expected out of a leadership camp, she said.
“We all took in the information we were learning throughout the week and began applying it to our lives,” she said. “You could easily see that all these girls had leadership qualities and wanted to make them even stronger.”
Raymond agreed, saying one of her most valuable experiences was the focus on her style.
“It was beneficial seeing what kind of leader I am, how I can become a better leader and which roles I need to take on in different groups,” she said.
They also learned about group dynamics and relationship building. Both women said they became close to the others in their group despite having only five days to get to know each other.
“All these strangers I met the first day became my 12 new best friends by the fifth day,” Wiklund said.