After having gone through Safari in 2016 as a participant, I knew I wanted to return the following year as a member of staff. In Spring of 2017 I applied to be a guide for the Fall 2017 Leadership Safari and received the position.
We were required to attend numerous trainings leading up to the end of the spring semester as well as return back to campus a week before the beginning of the event in order to prepare for the incoming freshmen.
Throughout these trainings I continued to build on my skills of facilitation and leadership which I had learned throughout my LDR100 and 200 courses. My previous experiences and time within those classes had given me a great deal of confidence going into my first on staff experience for Leadership Safari. Unfortunately this is what led to my demise as a guide.
I would not say that I entirely failed as a Leadership Safari Guide, and I would not put all the blame on myself for the low points of the week. But in reflection of my time as a Safari guide, there are things that I should have done differently, or situations where I could have had a more positive reaction than what had occurred.
There are nearly 2,000 students who participate in Leadership Safari each fall. Many students come to Safari with an excitement and drive to learn about the opportunities in which Central Michigan University has to offer. There are also many students who have absolutely no idea what they have been signed up for. But then there is an even larger number of students who agree to participate in Leadership Safari so that they can move away from their homes one week early and get started with their new college life a little quicker.
My participant group was comprised of 10 students, who for the most part had no idea what they had signed up for other than moving into college early. Which posed some challenges to this weeks events. This week taught me a lot about myself as a leader and facilitator. And looking back on my first year as a guide there are many things I would have done differently. First, I would have started off the week on a different note.
When I received my participants, I was far too concerned about them liking me or enjoying the week, rather than setting community standards or some sense of authority. Because of this, I allowed for my participants to disrespect me throughout the week and disrespect the mission of Safari.
My participants as individual people are good, kind, and smart people, but as a group were not functional. We struggled to have meaningful conversation, focus, and understanding throughout the week.
I wish that I would have created a different environment at the beginning of the week, as well as better utilized the resources Safari offers. Had I tried different methods for facilitation and debriefing, I may have had a different outcome from the week.
Despite my disappointment in my first guide experience, I am excited and re-engerized to be a facilitator in fall of 2018! This year I will have the opportunity to be a guide to transfer students, and hope to create the most positive experience for these future Central Michigan University students!