Camp Bulldog

Young leaders from Central Grampians, alongside Brendan CGLLEN's Youth Project Officer at Whitten Oval.
Young leaders from Central Grampians, alongside Brendan CGLLEN’s Youth Project Officer at Whitten Oval.

Last weekend, the Central Grampians participants of the Western Bulldogs Leadership Project (WBLP) invited young leaders to Melbourne for ‘Camp Bulldog’. Fourteen young people from Ararat, Stawell and St Arnaud hopped on a bus with Brendan, CGLLEN’s Youth Project Officer, to meet the rest of the 165 young leaders from around Victoria.

Western Bulldogs vs Sydney Swans

The bus took Brendan and the young leaders straight to Etihad stadium, where they were welcomed with tickets for the Friday night AFL match and jackets to represent the Bulldogs colours and to identify them as future leaders as a part of the leadership project.

The tickets seated Victoria’s young leaders front and centre at the match, right behind the goals near the Western Bulldogs cheer squad. Young leaders got right into the atmosphere with painted faces and a few cheers of their own.

This game proved to be of some significance for Bulldogs fans, as it was the first game of the season after winning the flag and cup last year. At the game, the cup was put on display on the oval and the flag was lifted in a ceremony.

After a game that had all the young leaders on the edges of their seats, the Western Bulldogs came out with a victory margin of 23 points over the Sydney Swans.

Leadership skills

The following Saturday was a massive day for all the young leaders, volunteers, and organisers. The day consisted of various workshops that helped the young leaders identify skills that can be attributed to leaders – as well as actually speaking to leaders from Australian communities.

Hour of Power

The troops were first tasked with an interactive scavenger hunt that had them running around Williamstown, and “taking photos with the Titanic”, building a human pyramid, and film themselves laughing for two straight minutes, amongst other things. This activity helped build team development and communication skills, as well as being a whole lot of fun.

DiSC Workshop 

In a sea of scattered words, young leaders were asked to find five words that they identified with. Each word represented a personality trait that could be identified with leaders. Compassionate, risk-taker, competitive, thoughtful, and kind-hearted were some of the words scattered across the room. A colour scheme helped to determine four types of leaders.

Young leaders were divided into groups with their respective colours, and were asked to brainstorm about how those particular personality traits can be extended into leadership roles. They also identified what kind of leaders they might clash with, and what a world without leaders like themselves might look like.

Franken-leader Workshop

With their leadership traits in tow, small groups drew what they thought a perfect leader might look like: strong, committed, open-minded, comforting, etc. Then each group took five of those traits, and collated them with other groups to make a ‘Franken-leader’, a person that encompasses all the best traits of a leader.

This workshop taught the participants that leaders can be versatile, though it is difficult for one leader to perfectly balanced. Leaders might have natural strengths and weaknesses, and identifying those traits and collaborating with other leaders is essential to a well-balanced leadership.

Four Corners

In another workshop, each corner of the room represented an opinion: strongly agree, agree, strongly disagree and disagree. The young leaders were posed with statements which they had to express an opinion about.

Some of the statements were as follows:

“a good leader should always know what to do”

“a good leader should admit their mistakes”.

This exercise helped the young leaders gauge how they, and their peers, have different perceptions what leadership actually means.

Guest Speakers: Empathy and Resilience 

After a day of hard work, the young people listened to guest speakers Omar Al Kassab and Mandy McCracken, two inspiring leaders in the community.

Omar Al Kassab told his story of becoming a refugee from Syria, a currently war-torn section of the world, and coming to Australia. He told of life before and during the war, and his life in Australia as a young leader in his community. Omar also spoke of the emphatic skills leaders should embrace to help those around them.

Mandy McCracken is an Australian woman, who shared her story about living a life of resilience. As a healthy young woman, she had never anticipated her limbs to be cut off as the result of a deadly infection. Both her arms and legs had to be amputated, and she now lives life with four prosthetic limbs. Through community and family support, she has been able to show impeccable resilience against the struggles life presented her with.

 Pizza Party

After a full day of everything leadership, the young Victorian leaders were rewarded with 100 pizzas which went down like a treat. The Pizza Party was followed by a Trivia game, in which young leaders versed other communities in rounds of general knowledge, sports and the like. Although this was one of the less-serious components of the camp, this event really brought teams together as they communicated clearly and worked alongside their peers.

Kicking the Footy

The following Sunday was much more relaxed as the young leaders were given an exclusive tour around the Whitten Oval, the home of the Western Bulldogs. They were shown every inch of the place, including behind-the-scenes that are exclusive to players and other Western Bulldogs crews.

And how can you do a tour at an oval without kicking a footy? The young leaders were welcomed onto the footy ground and were able to kick the ball with their new-found peers and local leaders.

“The whole experience was an excellent introduction to the project” Brendan, CGLLEN’s Youth Project Officer said. “It was an opportunity for our local group to gel together even though we are from a region with multiple municipalities across two different councils. I think we all made some new friends and I’m looking forward to the next Bulldogs session in the coming weeks.”