#MyWheaton Blog

Posted May 25, 2016 by
Tags: Spiritual Life Student Activities My Wheaton Global and Experiential Learning

#MyWheaton: HoneyRock's Summer Leadership School

This summer, junior Christiana McGann ’18 (below, at left) and senior Malena Sweers ’17 (below, right) are at HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College, participating in Summer Leadership School (SLS). Below, they share a bit about why they chose to spend their summers in classes, training, and as paid cabin counselors in a dynamic summer camp program for young people. 

Q: Why did you sign up to do HoneyRock’s Summer Leadership School (SLS)? Malena: I signed up for SLS because I wanted to be a part of the worshipful community at HoneyRock, members constantly inviting each other to love God as we participate in His creation together. When I transferred to Wheaton the spring of my sophomore year, the group of students who welcomed and loved me most had all been involved at HoneyRock, most of them with the SLS program. Their stories and high praise of the summer at HoneyRock moved me to keep the program in mind. At the start of this past fall semester other components moved around too, and I became the first SLS recruit of the year!  Q: What is SLS all about?  Christiana: In addition to being a leadership program, SLS is a unique ministry experience that demands learning and adapting as you go. That being said, the preparations we have received, in the form of various meetings, CPR training sessions, and my personal favorite—the winter retreat at HoneyRock we took this February—have only heightened my excitement. I had my first glimpse of HoneyRock during our retreat. Throughout that freezing weekend, I tasted for myself the sweetness of “a place apart.” The weekend involved zany team-building activities and times of solitude. We reveled in the exhilaration of snow-tubing and in various star-gazing treks on the frozen lake. And of course, I will never forget the infamous polar plunge. There is nothing quite as bonding as a dip in freezing waters during the balmy month of January. As we huddled for warmth beside a crackling bonfire, I recall feeling a strange sense of kinship with my fellow “crazies.” The weekend left me eagerly anticipating the summer to come. 


Malena: SLS is a program that equips college students like myself to guide campers entering 4th through 9th grade through a couple weeks of outdoor adventures, and to teach us how to be present with them to help process camp experiences. “SLS’ers” prepare with classes and training for five weeks before campers arrive. I am grateful for this time counselors have to become familiar with each other, learning how to build one another up when either joy or exhaustion prevails. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to about this summer? 

Christiana: The greatly anticipated SLS will be a summer full of thrilling stories and adventures to tell. I cannot wait to savor nature in a place of quiet, to hike and stargaze to my heart’s content. There’s something unique about the breathtaking view of a hike or the immensity of an array of stars. These are times in nature where I palpably feel God’s presence. I also look forward to reflective and quiet times to sit with and ponder hard questions. I want to meet God in a fresh way that renews my delight in the Lord. Finally, I cannot wait for the relationships I will find at HoneyRock. The people with whom I will interact, both campers and those I work alongside, will be sure to challenge me in ways that I can’t envision. In short, I’m at the brink of a summer of memories and crazy experiences that will create friendships like nothing else. In the words of Ellie from Up, “Adventure is out there!” 

Photos (from top): Christiana (at left) and Malena on Chrouser Lawn at HoneyRock in May 2016. Photos credit Alexander Lee ’18.

Learn more and apply to HoneyRock’s summer programs and camps on their website.