Leadership Retreat 2017

Shonda Miller, Community Outreach Coordinator

We just wrapped up our 3rd Annual Leadership Retreat almost 2 weeks ago, and we could not be more proud or excited for those that attended! Twenty-five teens and young adults applied were given the chance to join us for an absolutely incredible weekend full of learning, sharing, discovering, and growing with their peers and fellow T1D’s! As the demand for guidance and support in the young adult T1D community has grown, DYS has broadened its opportunities from just being a mentor or counselor at camp, to now having leadership activities throughout the year and a full weekend leadership retreat once a year. This offers a chance to not only have training for the upcoming camp year, BUT help teach life skills as the participants dive into their new role as self-sufficient adults. After looking at some of our opportunities from the previous year, this year at LR we did three main leadership focuses to center our retreat around: health, behavioral impact, and goal setting.

We were lucky to have three wonderful speakers this year: Chris Ruden, Kristi Gerdemen, and Kelly Elton! Kristi, school psychologist close to Findlay Ohio, did a great job at kicking off our retreat with energy. Kelly, from Bittersweet Farms, gave our Leadership participants some wonderful guidance on how to handle different behaviors at camp, handle everyday life adventures, and how to get those around you with differences involved! Chris is an elite Powerlifter, entrepreneur, T1D, and motivational speaker. He lives with a disability that he has been able to adapt to, allowing him to achieve his physical and mental goals. Chris graciously donated his time to come join us all the way from Florida for the ENTIRE weekend! Thank you Chris, Kristi and Kelly for helping to make our weekend so successful!

This year, the participants took an active role in helping to run the weekend. We set up a menu that focused on less processed and more mind energizing food options, and the LR participants prepared each of these meals THEMSELVES! From set-up to clean-up they handled each detail of our meals. Chris did a great job in encouraging them and talking with them about healthy choices during meals. It was great watching them discuss things they liked, ask questions about how to be healthier, and listen to how maintaining good nutrition/health (especially with their diabetes) can influence their behaviors, impact those around them, and help OR stop them from reaching their goals. One meal they made with Chris – chicken with cilantro, baked potato slices, and asparagus with garlic. Simple yet delicious, there were absolutely NO leftovers! We definitely noticed an increase in energy this year with these changes, which was very exciting to see.GroupSelfie1250

Throughout the weekend, we took the time to look at setting and meeting goals. Health goals, diabetes goals, life goals, school goals…we talked about ALL KINDS of goals! The word “goal” can be intimidating, but as we continuously talked about the importance of the word, that it can be big or small, and can pertain/affect any part of your life, the LR participants became more relaxed and excited about it.

This incredible weekend has definitely set the tone for the upcoming camp year. The LR participants brought in energy that grew as the weekend proceeded, willingness to learn, and the desire to make sure that all of their peers were included and learning right alongside with them. The DYS Leadership Program is becoming a family, helping each other to become a better mentor, friend, T1D, and camp counselor! New traditions were created, camp songs were sung (for TWO HOURS!), ideas were shared, and goals were set. It was a privilege to have the chance to work with and guide these young adults at the 2017 LR, and we cannot wait to see them grow and succeed in the upcoming year! Not only are they going to be great camp counselors, but they are going to make a difference in the lives of people around them.

If you are interested in participating in the Leadership program, please contact Shonda Miller at or 419-291-1238.

Comments are closed