Alex Moon Georgetown Day School 11th Grade
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Economics for Leaders camp, and found it to be an enlightening and engaging experience. Economics for Leaders is a selective summer camp that strives to teach economics and develop important leadership qualities, as well as explore the intersections between them. The session I attended was held at the University of California, Berkeley, specifically at the Foothill Residence Halls. Each day of the week-long camp was divided into a morning block, where students learn about economics, and an afternoon block, where students engage in numerous leadership activities. The remaining time is used for meals and free time.
Overall, I found the academic experience to be excellent. The professor, Debbie Henney, has taught economics for more than 10 years and certainly made that known in the classroom. Her lesson plan comprised of a lecture followed by an creative and engaging activity. For example, after learning about supply and demand and how they work in open markets, we had the opportunity to see it in action for ourselves. The class was divided into buyers and sellers and the market was set open! Eventually, after three rounds of negotiations, we were able to see the market trends we had just learned about exist in our simulation. It was exciting and truly satisfying.
At first glance, the leadership sessions seemed extraneous. Many of us, including myself, had never thought of pairing the seemingly rigidness of economics with the fluidity and subjectiveness of leadership. However, the combination of leadership and economics really worked and became the highlight of the camp. The leadership sessions were led by Jeff McMartin, a football coach who has spent more than ten years with EFL. Many of the sessions emphasized your values, and how that affects leadership can play out in groups. Over the span of a week, we were tasked in searching for what is really important to us and how we can channel that into leadership through dialogues, meditations and team bonding exercises. Of these activities, the most powerful and influential activity we did was the Power Walk, in which one person walks up in front everyone (at their choosing) and voices an insecurity, hope or an “I feel” statement. In response, those that identify with that statement also walk forward, to join the original speaker. While the activity was only meant to go for 30 minutes, the camp spent a collective 70 minutes on this. When it finally came to a close, you could see how much if had affected everyone. A renewed sense of trust, comradery and love filled the air.
Those feelings of trust were also a feature of the camp. Before the camp began, I had not anticipated making many friends, let alone all forty. However, in just under one week, it is safe to say that everyone in my dorm and camp became extremely close, to the point that I would consider friends at this camp better than some friends back home. As I reluctantly left my new friends on Sunday, I wondered: How could I have made such good friends in under a week? Thinking back to freshman year, it seemed near impossible to become close with anyone, let alone become good friends. Then how had this camp succeeded in that? I think about that to this very day. Whatever the reason, I am glad I went. I have discovered a newfound interest in economics, made amazing new friends and learned so much about myself.
<Alex Moon Georgetown Day School 11th Grade