The Pinnacle of the Longacre Experience
The Leadership Project is the pinnacle of the Longacre experience — it's the best we've got.
Think about high school for a moment. An AP course, an honors program or a travel team: why do students sign up for these? Why do students sign up for more responsibility, more work and more commitment?
We don't know. But it's that sort of drive that propels farmers into our Leadership Project.
The Leadership Project is invitation-only. We send invitations out to those who have demonstrated an interest in, and capacity for, leadership here at the farm.
What the Leadership Project Is
We call it a project because it's dynamic — a living, breathing thing. Each summer we learn a little bit more.
We wouldn't call it a program for fear of giving the impression we have everything figured out. Louise and Matt are works in progress; so are the big kids and the farmers, even the camp itself. This reality is fundamental to the culture we are trying to create here.
Farmers who accept our invitations become Leadership Kids, or LKs for short.
The Leadership Project runs the entire six weeks of the leadership camp. (That's Sessions 1 and 2. Invitees who attend only one session will not be included in the Leadership Project.)
LKs are assigned a big kid mentor and take on a prominent role in our community. We put them into leadership positions, like leading a crew. Then they receive more feedback than usual, both comfortable and uncomfortable.
LKs spend more time practicing their direct communication skills. They have their own Group meetings, once a week. These times are for them to reflect and receive guidance from adults.
In 2017 the Leadership Project will once again be led by Jake and Louise, the husband-and-wife duo.
Teen LEAD Conference
Prior to the summer the LKs will meet in New York City for a weekend of training and team-building (probably April, dates TBD). The weekend coincides with the Teen LEAD Conference (Leadership Education and Development) presented by the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey. We pay for the conference, the hotel, the meals and any group activities. Families are responsible for transportation to and from the hotel, and spending money.
LKs will also receive a YouScience profile to use at their convenience. YouScience is a surprisingly insightful tool that helps students “find the intersection of their aptitudes, interests and career opportunities.”
Let's talk about what we expect, what the farmers expect, and what the LKs can expect.
What We Expect From the LKs
LKs serve an important role in our community. Here's what we expect:
- LKs to role model the Longacre mission: a multi-year growth experience, with a focus on communication.
- LKs to "grow in public". LKs do not appear perfect, or pretend to have everything figured out. It would send a confusing message to the farmers. LKs in our community grow in front of their peers. When they have reservations, uncertainties or insecurities, they express them.
- LKs to role model the Longacre values: loyalty, inclusivity, self-awareness, independence of thought, and effort.
- LKs to bring people together: farmers and big kids; new farmers and returning farmers; the excluded and the included.
- LKs to give feedback to the directors about what's working at the farm, and what should change.
It's a lot of responsibility.
What Farmers Expect From the LKs
Interestingly, farmers who look up to the LKs expect a lot too.
On the feedback forms this summer we asked our farmers, "What do you think makes a good LK?" Here are five interesting responses:
- "Someone who is respected, but also easy to get along with and be friends with"
- "Someone who is honest and loyal to the community, and who makes clear efforts to change the worse for the better"
- "Be able to connect with new farmers and keep their relationships with old farmers"
- "A feeling of being one of the group instead of above them"
- "Someone who can be strict and serious when need be, but also someone to talk to and go to with questions"
Farmers want the LKs to strike a difficult balance.
What LKs Can Expect
LKs can expect a remarkably rewarding experience. Because you're putting in more, you're getting more out: more autonomy, more independence, more leadership, more respect.
Is it worth it? That's for the individual to decide.
Developing leadership skills here becomes a stepping stone. Former LKs tell us that what they learned helped them navigate high school, get into college and take active roles in college.
Invitations for 2017 will go out before Sep. 1st, 2016.
Important Note About Scholarships and Financial Aid
Invitations into the Leadership Project are based on merit and do not include offers of scholarship or financial aid. All financial arrangements are negotiated separately on a case-by-case basis.
Changes in 2017
There is one change to the 2017 LK schedule. LKs will arrive on Day 1 (Sun., Jun. 25th) with the farmers in Session 1. There will be no early arrival to camp. We have replaced early arrival with the weekend in New York City.