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Bonds form at camp

By By Matthew Nascone
Leadership is the key to any endeavor, big or small. Without a leader there would be no way to succeed in any avenue of life. Someone has to step up to the plate and direct other people in a group.
This was engrained in my head last Thursday at Beckwith Camp and Conference Center in Fairhope as I participated in the opening retreat for the Leadership Atmore Class of 2007. This was a great experience for me because the letters I, N, T and P now have new meaning in my heart.
Anyone on the class retreat will know what I am talking about and for those who have not been a part of Leadership in the past, know those four letters are what helps each camper know what type of individual they are.
Other than learning how introverted I am, I learned how to communicate with people and not to assume anything is as it seems. These are valuable life lessons that I was not expecting to learn on my two days in the woods with a bunch of people I had never met.
Of the 19 other people on the retreat I think I knew five of them before the weekend excursion, but by the end I was comfortable around any one of them. And this comfort was unveiled because of what we went through while on our retreat.
We were basically in the woods from around 9 a.m. Thursday morning until 6 p.m. that evening and we had to "survive" what our instructors Shane and Anne threw at us. Many of the obstacles were physical, but the most intriguing obstacles were the mental ones.
I found myself trusting people I barely knew and I hope this trust was reciprocated. I believe this trust came from the tough situations we were put in. We had a choice during the entire weekend to participate or not participate. And I was proud of myself in the end because I did not back away from any challenge.
And there were some who did not want to do some of the physical challenges, but they were great teammates and helped the ones who did the physical stuff through the obstacles.
At first I felt like I was on a high school field trip, but by the end I was able to see why Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce Director Emilie Mims and the Leadership Atmore steering committee put the class through this experience; it is fun. Bottom line, it was one of the most fun and entertaining experiences of my life.
I have been on church trips before, but on those trips you know whom you are dealing with. On this trip we had no idea who the people in our group were, for the most part, and by the time we returned to Atmore and all went our separate ways, we were a tight group.
I had a discussion with Emilie and I believe what she said is true; I made lifelong friends on that journey in Beckwith.
To be completely honest I was a little hesitant when my boss Adam told me the Chamber was wondering if I would want to be a part of Leadership Atmore because I did not know what I would be doing. But we have only gone on the opening retreat, and I know I made the right decision. I know I will have some of the best friends a person could ask for when we graduate next May.
I hope everyone else on the retreat had the same great time I did. And from what I have heard so far, they have. So to my entire fellow Leadership Atmore Class of 2007 classmates, here is to a great year of bonding and becoming better leaders within the Atmore community.
Matthew Nascone is sports editor of The Advance and a member of the Leadership Class of 2007.