University Resident Assistant Training Retreat
Pepperdine University requested an experiential program to develop the skills necessary for 250 Resident Assistants and Spiritual Life Advisors to effectively lead others on their dorm floors. For the first few years, the university only had one day to devote to this type of training, which we called “The Odyssey.” Summit Adventure staff traveled to the Pepperdine University campus to give these student leaders a variety of team challenges and follow each challenge with discussion to process and debrief. The goal was to transfer learning from the leadership simulations back to individual dorm floors and other leadership contexts. Students consistently rated The Odyssey as the highlight of their overall training. They had fun, built a strong esprit de corps and observed themselves and peers in leadership situations with strong connections to student life at Pepperdine.
Though these one-day trainings were effective, Residence Life leaders asked us if we could design a longer, more intense program that would introduce and cement even more leadership praxis. We proposed a four-day retreat in the High Sierra near Yosemite National Park. Students camped, cooked, rock climbed, rappelled, hiked and reflected upon their roles as leaders in the challenging beauty of Sierra mountains. Each year we have added or modified various aspects of the initial design in partnership with Residence Life leaders who are fully invested in this model of leadership development.