Innovate and Excel Boot Camp Report

Description of the camp 

The Innovate and Excel Teens Boot Camp took place between the 6th and 12th of August 2017. It was Steering for Greatness Foundation First Residential Boot Camp. We were blessed to have Lead City International School partner with us as the venue for the camp, the school facilities made the quality of the camp very high. We had a total of 39 participants – 21 of these were on scholarship and most of them were chosen from public schools within Ibadan through our collaboration with Jumpstart Academy and MAYEIN Mobile Library in the Alaka Community of Ojo Ibadan. We had a fairly gender balanced camp with 18 girls and 21 boys in attendance. Each participant on registration got a camp bag, notebook and pen.

The overall objectives of the camp were to equip the teenagers with leadership, entrepreneurship and technology skills; to learn principles of excellence, innovation and empathetic leadership as they become transformation agents. Being a residential camp, it also provided them the opportunity to work collaboratively, relate with their peers from different backgrounds and develop meaningful friendships.

Skill Acquisition Classes

This camp laid a huge emphasis on learning by doing and ensured that each participant went home with the practical knowledge of one vocational skill. The skill classes they chose from were – Photography, Confectionery & Mixology, Coding and Fashion Design. The table below shows the breakdown of the participants into the classes. We are happy to report that the participants displayed great enthusiasm in the skill classes and were able to display on the final day of camp what they had each learnt to their parents and colleagues.

Skill Number of participants
Photography 10
Coding 11
Confectionery & Mixology 14
Fashion Design 4

The downside we observed towards the selection of skills was that there was no female participant in the coding class.

Each day of camp started with prayers and exercise. Some students also had the opportunity to share their personal stories in the mornings in order to get them to know each other better.

Facilitators and Volunteers

Camp was graced with very willing, enthusiastic and committed facilitators and volunteers. They knew their subject matter and facilitated passionately without intimidating the participants.

 

Camp Layout

For the camp, we were very particular about the environment, so we had unconventional seating arrangements for the hall. We had different layouts for each session from U-shape, to circle, to V-shape and group seating.

 

Group assignments, chores and Collaborative Learning

On the second day of camp, the participants were split into groups and their first task was to choose team names. They came up with the following group names: Young Innovators, Excellence, The Daniels, The Incredibles, Evergreen and the Winners. Then we assigned cleaning, dish clearing and washing roles to the different groups. They also worked on together for their group assignments in the conflict resolution and design thinking classes.

Camp Values

With each passing day of camp, the teens were reminded of the need to embrace Gratitude, to share with others and show mutual respect for each other. After each session, they all stood up to recant the Camp gratitude – “on behalf of grateful LETers, we say thank you”. LETers was the name the decided to refer themselves, short for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Technology Campers).

We are glad to report that the participants were so well-behaved we didn’t have any incidence of theft or fights between participants. Misunderstandings were well handled and they communicated their differences respectfully. It was beautiful to watch them do their chores of clearing and washing dishes, arranging and sweeping the halls in harmony. The bond between the boys was so strong that it inspired the girls to also organize a bonding activity for themselves in the girls’ hostel after the Thursday session.

We also used the camp post office (envelopes pasted at the back of the room that bore the names of all participants) to encourage them to share feedback, appreciation and encouragement with each other and the camp facilitators and advisors.

Community Service

Wednesday 9th August was spent at Oluyole Cheshire home as the Community Service day. The teens were split into groups – painting, cleaning, washing, fetching of water. They were initially reluctant but it was beautiful to watch them team up and apply themselves to the service of the disabled people of the home. By the time they got into the heart of the work, they did not want to leave when it was time to go back to camp. The time at the home ended with the Matron of the home sharing the history of the home with the teens and praying for them.

Upon return to camp, we reflected on the experience at the home and most of the teens shared how the experience touched the depths of their being and challenged them not to be self-centered.

 

Highlights from the daily activities

These are the highlights of each of the daily activities as shared by the teens.

Day 1 – Conflict Resolution (the power of perspectives); personal mission and goal setting; next level leadership

Day 2 – Design thinking (they each designed their partner’s backpack); empathy in leadership; brought science to life through the it’s a gas challenge and worked together in their groups in the spaghetti and marshmallow challenge.

Day 3 – They had a session on entrepreneurship and formed 5 business groups with ideas ranging from recycling to sale of tyedye shirts, food retailing and delivery business. In the evening, they watched the Queen of Katwe, a movie about a girl from the slums who rose to become a chess champion.

Day 4 – Public Speaking, financial literacy and talent show were the highlights of the day. We discovered talents ranging a group that formed a camp song to dance to rap, comedy and dry jokes. The night ended with a general dance session.

Day 5 – A camp drew to a close, the teens had a session on story telling for impact, practiced their pitches, had a session on developing sterling character and wrapped up the last night in camp with a movie – hidden figures.

Day 6 – We had a general feedback session, where the teens shared their thought of the last 5 days. Then we had a closing ceremony with gift presentations.

Lessons learnt from outcome

Organising this boot camp was a great learning curve for myself and the team. The lessons of the pre-camp, camp and post camp outcomes are captured below.

  • Time management: we had a spillover effect on timing due to one of the facilitators arriving late on the first day and it affected the flow of the first two days.
  • Comprehensive training of volunteers before the camp: to ensure all volunteers can effectively lead and advise the participants, we recognized the need to conduct comprehensive training for all volunteers in the future.
  • Better delegation and communication: we will ensure clearer definition of roles and expectations for volunteers and advisors next time to prevent overlaps and burnouts.
  • More time allocated for skill acquisition: since the kids really enjoyed the skill sessions, we would seek ways to allocate more than 8 hours to it next time
  • Shorter sessions, more activities and outdoor classes: we observed that some of the participants had really short attention spans, we will have a mix of outdoor classes and 45mins sessions rather than 1.5hours next time.

 

 

Feedback from participants and volunteers

Apart from the daily evaluation, where the teens expressed their views on each day’s activities and what we could change or improve, we had a final evaluation on Saturday and their feedback are captured below:

  • Overall assessment of the camp: 46% rated the quality of the camp as excellent; while 41% rated it as very good.
  • Topics/aspects they found most interesting: Skill acquisition followed by Conflict Resolution, then Public Speaking & Story telling for impact, Design thinking and Community Service topped the lists.
  • Did the camp achieve the objectives and were their expectations met? 90% responded YES, with some saying their expectations were surpassed.
  • Will it be useful and applicable in their lives? 100% responded YES and Most Useful
  • Quality of Accommodation: 85% rated it good, 13% average and 2% rated poor.
  • Quality of support provided: 77% said good while 23% responded average.
  • Quality of food: 85% said good, with additional “thank you” comments to the catering team.
  • Volunteers shared that they enjoyed the camp but would have preferred if there were more defined roles communicated and for those that joined during the week, a meeting to brief them on the different aspects of camp so they could flow better.

Specific areas of improvements identified for next time by participants and volunteers are:

  • More sleep: the teens suggested a later waking up time
  • More outdoor activities and time for sports: As they only had one day for sports, they suggested next camp should give room for time to play sports.
  • Improvements around logistics relating to accommodation and meals
  • More games suited to the girls to play during personal time rather than just watching the boys play
  • Provision of hand sanitisers to prevent transmission of germs

Success stories to share 

We are delighted to share the following success stories from the boot camp:

The participants were so enthusiastic about their vocational skills that it was difficult for the facilitators to choose a best student in each class; all the participants in the fashion design class made beautiful high waist pleated skirts, with the only male participant going as far as stoning his skirt as a gift for one of the facilitators. The coding students also wowed everyone by building their personal websites from scratch.

One of the students, Tolu Adesina was so impressed and determined, she immediately started her cocktail & drinks business and has taken advantage of the mentorship platform of the camp. One of the participants, Simiat Agbaje shared her creativity with us by doing a visual caption of each day of camp.

We are thankful that there were no accidents or emergencies and the two health scares we had were handled by the first aid team successfully.

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