The first time that I heard about the opportunity to become a senior leader, I felt an instant need to seize the opportunity. The opportunity to become a leader and role model for all of the incoming freshmen was something that I could not pass up. I remember my time as a freshman and looking up to the seniors and other upperclassmen above me and I wanted to be just like them.
After I filled out my application and completed my interview, I was very anxious to hear if I made it into the Senior Leader group. Thankfully, I was selected to be welcomed into the group and there would soon be a meeting after discussing the overview of the coming months. Although the primary goal of Senior Leaders is to make Camp Aquinas a success, there was much preparation for the camp to be successful. Where the success would come from would be through us and we would have to get to know each other a little bit better before we could help the freshmen with their tough transition.
As we left for the training retreat at Camp Cho-Yeh, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As soon as we arrived we had to “muster” up with our house members and simulate what the freshmen would be going through: the first thing is that we had to go find our cabins only using a map and the first house to arrive at our meeting point wins points. The challenge came when we all had to carry our bags with us to the cabins, and to our luck, the cabins were elevated and we had to walk up slanted roads. The next couple of days would include the Senior Leaders trying out the same activities that the freshmen would be participating in, as well as lectures on what to do in certain situations. Our training and bonding throughout that week would allow us to be prepared the most for what August had to offer, the real work.
It’s 5:45 a.m. and I arrive at St. Thomas. All of the equipment and name tags for the freshmen are ready to go and all that we wait on now are the freshmen to arrive. In utter anticipation, I begin to ask myself questions like who will my freshmen be and what will they be like. At around 6, freshmen and their parents began to arrive and we began to check off names and get their bags and trunks organized. As soon as we arrived at camp, our training would be put to the test. I was a camp counselor over the summer for the entire month of June, so I felt confident in my ability to lead the freshmen and get their attention when I needed it.
Over the next couple of days, the bonds that I shared with my house freshmen would grow through cabin time and through meals when I got to ask them questions and hear about what they are excited for in high school. I got to witness freshmen conquering fears, making friendships, and becoming true brothers through the trials and tribulations that were presented to them. I got to learn that putting the freshmen first throughout the week is the most important thing that I could do for them because letting them know that I care will help them to understand what brotherhood means.
The whole experience of being a Senior Leader was a life-changing experience for me because I got to be that role model that I once looked up to and I get to inspire the next generation of Eagles into the family. This opportunity allowed me to realize that this is much larger than high school, this is a brotherhood.