This past weekend EKU Greek Life hosted a leadership retreat at the 4-H facility at Lake Cumberland. The retreat, a service project consisting of cleaning and maintaining the area around the camp, was carried out with the help of about 20 EKU student volunteers.
“Most of them were chapter presidents. Some people served other roles in the chapter, they were just stepping in because other headquarters had events that they needed to go to,” said Taylor Woosely, coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Woosley said that there was a great turnout of Greek Life participants in the event. “We had participation from our Panhellenic Council, our IFC and NPHC, as well.”
The group worked to clear the area to keep trees from falling on cabins and deter snakes and other wildlife from bothering the children when camp starts back up in summer.
“Our goal was to go over servant leadership. For that, we did community service down at the 4-H Camp. They needed help trimming up some trees and getting them cut down and out of the way,” Woosley said.
Rachel Clements, junior bio-medical science major from Louisville and president of the Chi Omega sorority, said this experience not only helped the community but also aided her in her own leadership role.
“Well, it was part of a retreat and I thought it would be a really good way to get to know the other presidents … we really had to work on teamwork and kind of lead ourselves. There were multiple locations we had to clear and we only had a limited amount of time that day because it was supposed to rain. We just had to break up into groups and figure it out … we weren’t really sure what the project was going into it, but it was really cool to make an impact on a community that was greater than Richmond.”
Chockie Herald, junior engineering physics major, serves as the Phi Delta Theta fraternity’s social chair. The Hazard native was one of the other students helping with the project. He said he felt the same way as Clements.
“Just surrounding yourself with people who want to be successful and people that are leaders just makes you more successful and a better leader in my opinion,” Herald said.
Herald also said he thought the effort that went into the job was well worth it.
“I feel like it’s a huge ripple effect. Not only did we help out the guys doing it—they were kind of older so it would have been hard for them to do it alone—but we also helped out the kids that are going to be coming. We actually helped them save some money too … because he mentioned that every tree that we cut down and moved, they wanted to charge him $800 to move it,” Herald said.
The volunteers ended up moving 10 to 15 trees from the campsite altogether.
The group mainly worked on cleaning the facility on Saturday, so on Friday, they had a chance to settle into the camp and focus on group exercises.
Clements said it helped to have that time beforehand to get to know the camp.
“We stayed in the cabins overnight, we got to see what the camp was all about and we got to eat at the dining hall. We got to settle in and then on Saturday we got to spend all day working with them.,” Clements said.
“The first day we did a lot of team-building activities to better ourselves as leaders and to give us tools to be there for people,” Herald said. “We woke up the next morning around 7:45 and they fed us breakfast, and then that’s when we actually started the service.”
Both Clements and Herald said, if given the chance, they would like to do this project or something like it again.
“I definitely would,” Clements said. “I think having a bigger impact on the community is super important because we were once kids at summer camp and that made us who we are too. It’s definitely really cool to be able to give back.”
Herald said he enjoyed the retreat so much, that he mentioned using his position as IFC president to recreate something like this in the future.
“I’ve already talked to him about … getting some guys in different fraternities to branch out and help me.” Herald said.
The students said that focusing on the welfare of the kids motivated them to do the job.
”They were so grateful that we were there. At first, it just seemed like we were helping them out, but it turned out to be so much more than that … It was really cool to be part of part of a project that was just bigger than myself,” Clements said. “The kids are going to have a safer environment to enjoy their summer camp. It’s really important because they’re going to be the next generation’s leaders.”