Leadership Retreat for District Student Advisory Council


In late May students in the District Student Advisory Council (DSAC) came together at Capernwray Harbour on Thetis Island as a group to build leadership skills, supportive relationships, and, most importantly, to have fun.

This yearly trip sees most members of the current DSAC and new prospective members travel to Thetis Island to take part in a number of fun activities and leadership development opportunities to build their strength as a team, welcome new members, and say good-bye to graduating students.

The first day started with a ferry ride from Chemainus to Thetis Island where students were met by Capernwray staff and headed off to unpack in their rooms. The beautiful summer weather was fantastic for their first activity – watersports. This part of the day let students unwind in a variety of ways including tubing, kayak paddles, swimming, and harbour tours. As the watersports came to an end, the students found themselves up on the beach volleyball court and others relaxing in the shade.

After a great dinner, the DSAC students had to face their first team-building challenge built to test their communications skills and their trust in one and other. The students were divided into two teams and were asked to designate a ‘communicator’ within each team. Once the ‘communicator’ was selected, the task was explained to the group and the other members were blindfolded. The purpose of this event was to have the communicator figure out how to lead their team to water, gather a large amount, and transport it to the finish line. While this was not a timed event, the focus was on building communications skills and recognizing others’ talents. The teams set off, listening carefully for the detailed directions of, ‘follow me’, ‘no, I’m over here,’ and ‘just listen to my voice.’

Once a system was worked out within the groups they set out to collect their water. Using a bucket (which they could use to scoop, but not to carry), tarp, two sticks, and a ring, they gathered water from nearby ponds, all under the watchful guidance of their communicator. A few moments later, with wet feet around, the groups set off for the finish and unloaded their haul to be measured. While there technically was a winning team, the real goal was to explore team communication and see how they could rely on, and harness, each other’s strengths.

The evening concluded with a bonfire, smores, and a guitar play-along as the sun set.

Early the next morning, after a full breakfast of waffles and other goodies, the students were led to ‘The Screamer’. ‘The Screamer’ is a leadership test designed to test personal limits, push past them, and find success in something you’ve overcome. That’s all metaphoric of course, ‘The Screamer’ is actually a 40’ pole that students had to climb, stand on top of, and then jump off, only to catch a trapeze swing about 8’ away and then be gently lowered to the ground via harness and ropes. Every student was able to find their own type of success on ‘The Screamer’. While most were able to climb to the top and jump off, some were successful in pushing past their fears and geared up and climbed some of the way up the pole.

Finally, the students were put through a team-based obstacle course. This course featured various challenges that saw them put into practice what they had learned over the last day. From wall climbs, to the spider’s web and others, teams were pitted against each other in a race against the clock.

The day provided for so many opportunities to build trust and relationships and this group of young leaders took it to heart. New friendships and great working relationships were born of the Capernwray adventure.