An Interact(ive) approach to leadership training

Students take part in an outdoor training session during District 5180′s Interact Presidents and Officers Training Seminar at Sacramento State University. Photo courtesy of Bill Tobin

By Bill Tobin, assistant governor of District 5180 and a member of the Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills, California, USA

How do you keep a roomful of students and Rotary members awake for leadership training? We discovered recently that busting out of the classroom, and varying the format just a bit, can work wonders.

Being an Interact club adviser has been one of the most enjoyable service commitments I’ve held in Rotary. Watching these motivated young leaders “Engage Rotary and Change Lives” is awe inspiring to say the least. So naturally, when the opportunity arose to be our district’s Interact chair, I seized it.

I had previously attended our training seminars for incoming Interact officers. The information and inspiration was wonderful. But I noticed as the day progressed that confinement to classroom lectures tested the ability of students and adults alike to stay alert and focused. More than once, I saw the familiar head bob of someone fighting to stay awake.

So I decided to take a new approach by combining the lectures from instructors with team-building challenges. And we took the entire event outdoors. Only the opening and closing sessions were held in a classroom setting.

We created five stations around the Sacramento State University campus and used members of the University-based Rotaract club as guides. The groups of incoming Interact officers were able to have more personal time with the instructors and also had a chance to work through team-building challenges. Rotary club and school faculty advisers could monitor their boards in action during the challenges, providing valuable insight on the effectiveness of communication and teamwork skills.

This concept of an Interact(ive) training seminar was well received by both the incoming Interact officers and the advisers. The combination of instruction, team-building, and fellowship created a fun and rewarding experience and was a great beginning to their Interact year.