While September 22, 2022 brought excitement to many as the first day of fall, it especially brought excitement (accompanied surely by some nerves) for the 25th class of Leadership Kenosha. The "silver class" of 19 participants gathered at Kenosha Country Club to be introduced to the program as well as each other.
One of the objectives of the two-day retreat was to build community and trust among the cohort members. Plenty of activities were planned to help us achieve that goal, but we started off with the most vulnerable activity possible…yep, you guessed it, professional headshots... in front of 18 strangers!! THEN, to top it off, we took a few group shots! "Hi, I know y’all just met but I’m gonna need you to squeeze in tight like ya like each other!" Ha! In all seriousness, day one was fantastic.
After the actually very positive and uplifting experience of taking headshots in front of strangers, we heard from a multitude of people who are connected to Leadership Kenosha, including Kenosha Chamber of Commerce President Dave Strash and many steering committee members. Overall, there was a resounding appreciation for what this program has done for individuals and the community alike. Steering Committee Chair, Amber Elizabeth (LK2020), gifted participants with a gratitude journal, reminding us that while we can get bogged down with the stresses of our jobs, our personal lives, and the general state of our community, we can shift our mindset by reminding ourselves of the tiny things that make us grateful to be where and who we are. (Insert reminder for the cohort to write in their journals!)
Lunch was provided by Kenosha Country Club, and then it was time to get to know everyone! We started in a circle and went around saying our names and something we like to do, accompanied by a mandatory motion of said activity. We then tossed a ball around to individuals and said their name and sheepishly reenacted their activity. Eventually we were challenged with tossing multiple balls and having to be on our toes listening for our names while also trying to remember everyone else's. Pure chaos— but I’ll admit it worked because the group then split into two for arguably the most fun name—remembering game in history. Our gracious LK Leaders, Amy Garrigan (LK2017) and Debra Karp (Leadership Racine 2006), held a sheet high between the two groups. Individuals were sent up to the sheet and once it was dropped, had to say the person’s name they were faced with FIRST in order to recruit them to their side. The goal being everyone on one side. Our leadership styles (re: competitiveness) were all revealed QUICKLY in this activity... along with some creative, albeit questionable, strategies to win. Amy and Debra claimed our class held the record for the longest recorded sheet game which showed how dedicated we were to getting to know our classmates. (Although I’m still looking for "Loretta"... anyone else? ha!)
The first day ended with a Real Colors workshop facilitated by Amy Greil (LK2014). Real Colors is a personality typing tool that gives individuals insight into things like their strengths and values in order to understand why we all respond the way we do to circumstances. The idea behind this typing is to better understand ourselves and our peers so that working together can become a positive and productive experience.
Day two brought us to Williams Bay to participate in the Outdoor Wisconsin Leadership School (OWLS) Program offered by the Lake Geneva Fresh Air Association. This day was filled with a plethora of team building activities that required us to work together as well as trust those in our cohort. A big ask for a group of 19 who were strangers a mere 24 hour prior, but at the end of the day while debriefing, we all felt like we’d known each other for decades. We shared how the day helped us accept important leadership concepts like overcoming fears, trusting the process, that vulnerability is okay, to express gratitude for others on our team and make sure they know their value, and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness-sometimes it is the only way we can make it through! Our day ended with about half the group strapping on a harness and helmet and getting hooked into a swing a few stories high into the trees. It was an exhilarating experience for those who dared!
The Leadership Kenosha Class of 2023 has a lot yet to learn about our community, and about each other, but we all agreed that during our two-day retreat, 19 individuals became one team. We are dedicating this next year to learning how we can bring Kenosha together as one team, just as our cohort was unified. We are honored to be trusted to join the collection of amazing LK graduates who have been impacting our community for the past quarter century.
September 29, 2022