Hamilton Middle School students learned to take risks and “fall forward” this week as part of a self-esteem and team building training with the SUMMIT Leaders at Trapper Creek Job Corps.
The school offers two years of Advanced Leadership Training, and on Tuesday, two dozen members of the eighth grade Leadership Team participated in challenging ropes courses.
Kristi Rodriguez, a trip chaperone and the library media specialist, said the goal is to teach leadership skills that apply to school and all of life.
“We want them to be role models and we try to set the bar high with our expectations,” Rodriguez said. “We expect them to use these skills they are getting in their classes with their behavior, attending school events, showing school spirit, and being part of Student Council.”
In seventh grade, students are introduced to leadership, then challenged to develop intermediate leadership skills.
Gracie Hawkes is in eighth grade and HMS Student Council president.
“This is our advanced group. We usually have quite a few kids who come,” Hawkes said. “It is improving our school spirit. We’ll carry it on to the high school next year and be role models for other kids.”
Trapper Creek students in the “Students United to Mentor, Model, Inspire, and Teach” (SUMMIT) program work with the younger students. They have visited HMS and hosted them at their campus up the West Fork.
“It’s a great partnership,” said Kaylie Beierle, another field-trip chaperone.
Evan Gimple, counselor with TCJC, said the goal for each ropes course challenge session was to teach students to “fail forward” by putting themselves into challenging situations where they push themselves and build confidence.
“Our main thing is middle school students on leadership, but SUMMIT also does stuff with wildland fire fighters, hot shots, smoke jumpers, and a lot of local districts and community organizations like BEAR,” Gimple said.
The first challenge was the low ropes course, where students had to walk along a wire strung between four trees. They had to work as a team, develop strategies and trust each other for balance and ideas. After each challenge on the low ropes course, SUMMIT staff would debrief the students asking if they failed, what they did to fix the problem and how they moved on to success.
Students responded with comments that reflected team building – trusting each other, increasing communication, listening to everyone’s ideas, trying all ideas, and working together.
After building team confidence and trust, the students moved to the high rope course in the tree tops and worked on individual self-esteem.
“These are the things we hope for the kids to get out of this program,” Rodriguez said. “They arHMSe having fun, while gaining confidence in themselves and learning to push themselves into doing things they didn’t think they could.”