Leadership Atmore a great experience

Published 4:02 pm Thursday, October 13, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
If you were to ask me prior to last Thursday what I thought about the Leadership Atmore program, my answer would have been rather vague.
That's because all I knew about it came from the annual Taste of the South cooking festival and from stories the small number of former graduates of the program that I know have told me.
Now that I have personally experienced what the program is all about, I couldn't have asked for a better experience.
Arriving at the Atmore Community Lions Center at 6:30 a.m. last Thursday, I must say I was rather tired and nervous because I didn't know whom my classmates would be. Once we were all accounted for, I was pleased to learn that I knew most of them from working with them in the community, but it was more of a business relationship than a friendship.
On the bus ride to Camp Beckwith, we all were instructed to sit by someone we didn't know and get to know them. My bus buddy was Dale Johnson, who works as a controller at United Bank. It was nice to get to know a businessman my age and learn things about him that you probably wouldn't if you were just passing at a Rotary Club or Lions Club meeting.
We later had to stand up on the bus and tell the rest of the class about our bus buddy, so we could all get acquainted quicker. We all later learned that it was all just a ploy to get our attention and keep it as the bus driver zigzagged her way through the back roads of Baldwin County to Camp Beckwith. They wanted too make sure none of us would know how to explain to someone how to pick us up as we plotted our escape.
When we arrived at camp, we immediately began hands-on activities with each other that helped us build teamwork and trust in one another. After several activities, we took a lunch break.
Following lunch, the class participated in the Beckwith's Challenge by Choice ropes course, which helps in building teamwork, increasing communication skills and raising the level of group cooperation. Although many of the challenges were physically and mentally demanding, we all stuck together as a team and everyone finished the day with a sense of accomplishment, whether the course was completed or a fear was overcome.
Thursday night we enjoyed fellowship with one another during a steak dinner. The next day we enjoyed a morning filled with hands-on class work as part of the program's personality assessment.
After leaving Camp Beckwith, we stopped in Malbis for lunch and one last opportunity to bond as a group before returning to Atmore and our jobs at 3 p.m.
Now that I look back on the two-day experience, it's odd how we all came together at first as a group of strangers, but left knowing that we all had 17 more friends in our community. I have to admit, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever been a part of and I'm proud to add the chapter to my life.
I can't wait to see what Leadership Atmore has in store for us throughout the rest of our training.
Adam Prestridge is publisher of the Atmore Advance. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at adam.prestridge@ atmoreadvance.com.

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