ELR ‘Emerges’ a Success For Student Participants


Kathy Petras

Baldwin Wallace students participating in this year’s Emerging Leaders Retreat at Cuyahoga Conservation of Wildlife.

Gabriella Radak, Contributing Writer

The Baldwin Wallace University Emerging Leaders Retreat, which took place just a few weeks ago, has been a continued positive influence on participating students for at least 20 years.
Lasting a day and a half, the Emerging Leaders Retreat allows first and second year students to connect with older students through the use of group discussion and games.
This retreat allows students to foster relationships, get involved on campus and see what opportunities are available to improve their leadership abilities. It also helps students find a better ground to foster leadership on campus.
Junior Antonio Paris, a double major in Neuroscience and Biology, was a co-chair for the event. Paris and his fellow co-chair have been planning the retreat since last year.
“A lot of students are already involved [on campus] since it is halfway through the first semester, but it’s also about managing the involvement,” said Paris.
Each year, the retreat is given a theme that ties in with leadership. This year’s theme was 90s cartoons, which the co-chairs felt was a good theme to build upon.
“They’re such influential shows that we watched growing up,” said Paris.  “How do we relate to them, and how do we relate that back to a leadership opinion?”
The Emerging Leaders Retreat starts on a Saturday morning and ends the following Sunday afternoon. This year, it took place at the Cuyahoga Conservation of Wildlife.
The co-chairs of this retreat are in charge of planning the event starting the year before. They hold meetings throughout the summer and pick the theme, ice breakers and various other parts of the event.
At the beginning of the school year, facilitators are chosen based on interviews and participation. They are split into groups of one boy and one girl, and help the retreat run smoothly.
To participate in the retreat rather than run it, there is an online application. Participants are chosen based on how much passion for leadership they show, or if they show leadership experience on their application.
All the co-chairs and facilitators have at least attended the retreat before. Their job is to now get the participants out of their comfort zones.
To do so, the retreat starts off with ice breakers. Games like birdie on a perch, people to people and ride that pony are played in order to get everyone warmed up.
After ice breakers, the retreat begins to grow in intensity. Participants are split into groups and are given more challenging activities, such as Burbs, cross the line, and true colors.
As a co-chair, Paris had to attend the retreat again. This time, he was able to watch participants and see what they took away from this experience, as well as listen to other people’s stories.
“Being able to relate to those people is so intense and also gratifying at the same time because as a leader, you don’t know other people’s backgrounds and you always have to be catering to their backgrounds,” said Paris. “You don’t know what’s happened to them, so you have to treat them with a case by case basis and this really helps to facilitate that understanding.”