Outdoor classroom teaches leadership skills

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Leadership can be found in many settings, like the classroom or the boardroom. Sometimes, it can even be found outdoors. Monday in Gautier, the Heritage Trails Partnership offered a class in team building and leadership for college students from three different states.

The lesson begins with a pep talk, and then it's time to head for the ropes course at the community college. It seems like fun, but the message is serious.

"We want these young college folks to be able to develop the skills they need to not just go out and have a fun, healthy, safe trip in the outdoors, but to actually be able to lead and mentor younger students," Nettles explained.

What skills are needed?  How about walking on a swinging log with friends to catch you.  Maybe even being carried through a tire.

Jess Foley is from the University of Hartford.

"I think what we learn here today is going to be great to come back and implement it into our communities, kind of spread the word, get everything going and just hopefully make a difference," Foley said.

The lessons are invaluable for Raheel Hassan from Missouri.

"We're with schools from Delaware and Rhode Island and the biggest thing is just to kind of meet new people... and for your relationships, and learn a lot about ourselves, as well," Hassan said.

There are several goals for this outdoor program for these students from colleges across the country: Number one, leadership skills. Number two, enjoying and appreciating what nature has to offer. But probably the most important is trust.

Brianna Dachisen is also from the University of Hartford.

"You meet people every day and you have to learn to trust people if you're going to a new job or new school," Dachisen said. "It's a really big thing and I think it's important for people to know how to do."

Officials with the Heritage Trails Partnership hope to offer another program for high school students from the coast sometime this summer.

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