Introduction :

During April 1986, the Lions Club of Port Shepstone staged its first Leadership Retreat for Aiken Park High School, a school for pupils with learning disabilities with a large number of welfare cases. The first course was held over a single day. Such was the success of this course that it was expanded the following year into a two day course and, by their own request, a course was also organised for Port Shepstone High School. The two separate courses were run over back-to-back weekends in January. In 1988 Aiken Park High School requested that we run their course in November as this course would be used for determining their final selection for the prefect body for the following year. With the closure of Aiken Park High School in 1993, all efforts were concentrated on Port Shepstone High School. The course was shifted to October as this co-incided with the nominations of the new prefect body. This course has since been instumental in deciding who the Head Boy and Head Girl for the following year will be.

Course Objectives :

  • Recognising our youth as tomorrows leaders. We aim to provide a forum for the reinforcement of those leadership skills already recognised in certain individual pupils by the school. Providing such a course as a service to the school and it's youth.
    To give those selected as leaders within the school an opportunity to get together in a suitable climate and begin the process of team building. 
  • Publicising our Club's efforts at every opportunity in order to encourage other Clubs in the Multiple District to adopt this very worthwhile project.
  • The self development of all participating members of this Club. This is achieved through their individual research into all aspects of leadership, preparation and presentation at each course.
  • To convene a project that would involve as many Club members as possible and promote good fellowship amongst the members.
    To promote Lionism within the community and to display the service ideal as an avenue worthy of the young participants consideration in their future lives.

Underlying Considerations :

Some of the members of our Club have teaching experience and they have recognised that :

  • Very little is done in our schools to formally develop leadership skills, even amongst those elected to leadership positions.
  • Even if schools did attempt some type of formal leadership training, the proper atmosphere to promote the free exchange of ideas is difficult to achieve by school teachers within a school environment.
  • The idea that leaders are born and not made is clearly outdated. The skills of leadership are well researched and known and they can be acquired through learning and practice.
  • All youth like to break away from the usual routine and all enjoy a camping type experience. Our venue at Camp Anerley is ideal in this regard.

The Actual Course :

Numberwise we deal with between 30 and 40 pupils. These groups are fully representative of race and gender. The venue is ideal as it is rustic and has all the necessities. It is out of the way enough to reinforce the camping atmosphere and to support the idea of a retreat. There are dormitory blocks, a large ablution block with plenty of hot water, an excellent gas-fired kitchen, a large lecture room and vast open spaces for outdoor activities. The whole course is made up of lecture spots liberally broken up by outdoor activities and participative seminars such as the role played leadership situations. Leadership theory, motivation, communication, team building, public speaking, people-to-people skills, public behaviour and prefectship skills are covered. The role play sessions pose conflict situations that the pupils are likely to encounter and strategies for dealing with them discussed. The outdoor activities involve team exercises designed to bring into the open some of the skills learned in the lectures. The practicals end with the now famous obstacle course where teams are expected to carry a can of water over and under a variety of hurdles and hazards.

On the Friday evening, fellowship is shared around a braai. All Lions and their families are invited to join the lecture group at this function as are members of the school staff. The most fitting climax to the whole course is the formal dinner on the Saturday evening. This is a black tie affair with all the necessary toasts and a guest speaker. The course attendants are also presented with certificates which they are able to submit as part of their resume in later life.

Financial Implications :

The following financial costs are involved with a project of this nature :

  • The hiring costs of the venue.
  • Transportation costs (transporting pupils to and from the venue)
  • Catering costs (these include three meals a day per pupil, and refreshments etc. As well as meals for the various course presenters)
    Stationary & postage costs
  • The formal dinner (This is usually held at the Port Shepstone Country Club and a cost per head is levied for a 3-4 course meal - additional refreshments costs must also be taken into consideration)
  • This course is presented free of charge by the Lions Club of Port Shepstone as a Community Service Project. During the past few years, this Club has always covered the cost of this entire project including the formal dinner.

Evaluation :

All objectives are met in full. The feedback from the school principal is exceptionally rewarding and encouraging as is the evaluation of the pupils themselves. At the end of each course, pupils are given the opportunity to submit evaluations on each item of the course. These are then thoroughly researched by the organisers and form the basis of any changes to the course, improvements etc. The Lions Club of Port Shepstone is serving a very obvious need in the community. Participation by Lion members and their ladies is exceptional and there is no doubt that there is much personal development involved. This project has already been awarded the trophy for Project of the Year for Lions Multiple District 410 (South Africa / Namibia).

(Click to enlarge)