Chamber Leadership classes jump into team building at Doe River Gorge

Published 10:18 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

Photo by Brandon Hicks Hampton High School student Jared Wiltshire and Melenda Perry of Elizabethton High take the double leap of faith during a Chamber team-building event at Doe River Gorge.

Photo by Brandon Hicks
Hampton High School student Jared Wiltshire and Melenda Perry of Elizabethton High take the double leap of faith during a Chamber team-building event at Doe River Gorge.

Climbing to the top of a 25-foot pole and jumping off probably doesn’t sound like a bonding exercise for most people, but that’s how members of the Carter County Youth and Adult Leadership classes spent their day Wednesday.
Class members visited Doe River Gorge to for team-building exercises. The youth leadership program has 26 high school students from the county and city high schools, and the adult leadership class has 13 participants.
Milligan College Public Relations Director and Youth Leadership Director Chandrea Shell said this was the first time that the youth and the adult programs came together for the team-building activity day at Doe River Gorge.
The joint date came about after youth leadership and adult leadership organizers realized that the same day was working out to be the best time for each group to visit DRG for the team building lessons. Shell said adult leadership leader, Rusty Melton, had also suggested starting a bridge program which would allow mentorship between the adult and youth leadership participants.
“This allows the students to interact with the business leaders of the area and learn from their experience and expertise,” Shell said. “It allows the adults to get to know the youth that are going to be the leaders in the county one day.”
Part of the process of getting to know each other included participating in high adventure activities together. One of those activities was the “double leap of faith.” Teams of two – in this case an adult and youth leadership member – climbed to the top of a 25-foot pole and then leapt off with the goal of grabbing onto a hanging bar a few feet from the pole.
One of these teams was comprised of Sam Willis, an employee at Sycamore Shoals Hospital, and Jake Lyons, a student at Hampton High School.
Willis first climbed to the top of the pole and stood on the platform and waited for Lyons to join him at the top.
“We didn’t really have a strategy,” Willis said. “We just wanted to get up there and give it our all. We wanted to grab that bar.”
Both agreed that while they weren’t afraid of heights, the “double leap of faith” was an intimidating activity to conquer.
“It was challenging,” Lyons said. “You are pushed to work with people that you don’t really know, but you bond through the day and it gets more natural and everything goes more smoothly as the day goes on.”
Other new aspects of the program includes dual-enrollment credits for both high school and an elective credit at Milligan College, and closer evaluations of the students’ individual leadership styles.
The Youth Leadership program is provided through a partnership with the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce and Milligan College. The group meets one day each month from August to May and participates in hands-on leadership development activities. Their classes cover topics like local government, economic development, history and heritage, healthcare, communication, leadership styles, tourism, agriculture, financial preparedness and state government.
The student delegates for the Leadership Class were selected through an application and interview process. Shell said the selection committee takes student recommendations from high school administrators and counselors. The previous year’s class is also asked for their recommendations for good candidates for the following year.
Melton said the goals of the adult leadership program are to create a network of community leaders, promote team building and expose members to the county’s history and operation.

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