Four student athletes from Lincoln-Way North High School are anxious to apply what they learned at a leadership camp this summer in Colorado.
Juniors Erin Creedon, Morgan Parkinson, Ozzy Salazar and Julian Hylton spent a week at the JKB Ranch in Villa Grove, Colo. where they honed their leadership skills and learned a whole new set of team-building skills.
“It exceeded my expectations,” said Ozzy, who returned to Frankfort with a new outlook on life and a desire to help others.
“We learned how to take responsibility for our actions, how to be a positive influence on others and how to help others head in the right direction,” he added.
“I learned that you have the power to accomplish anything you put your mind to,” added Erin.
This is the fifth year Lincoln-Way North has sent student athletes to the camp where they were challenged to a series of team-building activities each day, such as paintball, horseback riding, white water rafting and skeet shooting.
They used skills acquired in classroom discussions each morning as well as Sean Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens to complete the team-building exercises.
They learned how to listen to one another and work as a team, how to trust one another and how to strategize to solve problems.
“Athletics is the avenue through which many young people develop themselves to their fullest potential,” explained Lincoln-Way North Athletic Director Matthew Lyke. “My passion has always been to see personal growth and development of lifetime skills in students, coaches and community through the athletic experience.”
The JKB Ranch was founded in 1994 by a couple whose son, J. Kyle Braid, took his own life after taking steroids to become a bigger, faster football player.
His family turned their grief and loss into a mission to help other teens and families by creating the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation and ranch.
Each year, they invite high school sophomores to the ranch (20 at a time) to participate in a series of team-building activities. The goal is to build their self-esteem and to teach them skills to become better communicators and leaders.
Ozzy and Julian were the first North students to attend the camp this year, joining 18 other boys from Florida and the Chicagoland area the first week of June.
When they returned home, Erin and Morgan headed to the ranch where they joined 18 girls from Florida and the Chicagoland area.
“We still talk to each other,” said Erin, who enjoys keeping up with her new friends from Sandburg, Lockport, Lincoln-Way West and Plainfield North high schools via Facebook.
Ozzy does the same using text messaging.
“It was so sad when we had to leave (the ranch),” he said. “I would love to go back.”
Lincoln-Way North picks four student athletes who have just completed their sophomore year to attend the weeklong camp each year. Students are selected based on an application process that requires them to submit a resume, cover letter and two letters of recommendation. Grade point averages and leadership abilities also factor into the selection process.
“It was a long process,” said Erin, but well worth the effort.
“It’s definitely impacted me a lot,” she added. “I’ve become a lot more helpful around the house and a better friend. I communicate more with my friends.”
“When I got back (from camp), it was a whole new outlook,” said Ozzy. “I’m glad I went.”