Muskoka Woods Youth Leadership Workshop

Leadership Workshop

Inspiring Youth to Shape Their World

Muskoka Woods, a Christian youth resort in Muskoka, Canada, has long been known as a place that welcomes young people to life-changing experiences, creating a safe place where youth grow mentally, physically, spiritually and socially.

As part of their summer camp program, Muskoka Woods offers youth 15-17 years old the opportunity to participate in their CEO Leadership Program. The objective of the four-week CEO (Challenge, Experience, Opportunity) Leadership Program is to prepare youth for a lifelong journey of leadership, confidence and character building. Across a broad spectrum of unique leadership training programs and recreational activities, participants have the opportunity to identify their strengths and build the skills they need to be exceptional leaders.

On July 21-22, Dan Moynihan and Shauna Barnes – workshop facilitators with a combined 40 years of facilitation experience in education, youth and family outreach – had the opportunity to visit Muskoka Woods as representatives of Sport at the Service of Humanity and engage CEO participants in a two-day, four-hour workshop on the Sport at the Service of Humanity (SSH) movement. The workshop was comprised of 36 youth leaders ages 15-17 from all over the world.

Workshop Goals:

  • Inspire youth through the Principles to live a life that values our shared humanity.
  • To design an SSH youth engagement program template developed by young people on how they can best embody the Principles in their lives.

The workshop was designed to invite youth to:

  • Be introduced to the history, philosophy and architects that shaped the SSH Principles.
  • Consider the Principles as characters and assets already dwelling in each individual and how one can nurture and access them to motivate and inform their daily choices.
  • Consider the ordering of competition in one’s life. Youth will engage in experiential learning, discovering how one is built to apprehend and understand how their sense of competition shapes their world view.
  • Study real- life scenarios through the lens of the Principles promoting positive, self-directed outcomes that seek the greater good.
  • Identify and promote opportunities to further the Principles integration and appropriation in the lives of young people around the world.

The workshop, which marked SSH’s first initiative of this kind, was met by the participants with enthusiasm and excitement. The SSH’s key principles of Compassion, Respect, Love, Enlightenment, Balance and Joy resonated with the youth participating in the workshop.

Discussion from many of the youth centered around the ways in which they could incorporate the Principles into their own lives. Participants agreed that they could not think of another movement that was calling young people to something so important and fundamentally linked to how they live their own lives.

Perhaps most importantly, all of the young people involved wanted to know what else they could do to get involved and how they could make a difference to the movement.

Workshop Outcomes:

On the second day of the workshop, the youth gave a presentation to SSH leadership member Nick Marrone, representing Sport at the Service of Humanity, outlining the ways that they would engage their generation. Their recommendations included:

  1. Recruit SSH Ambassadors: Identify people whose stories bring each of the Principles to life. These ambassadors could be celebrity or non-celebrity, with the most important aspect being their story and it’s impact. It was noted that global representation and different perspectives (parents and coaches) were both important elements.
  2. Share SSH Via Social Media: Use technology (Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat) to create content, share information and foster inspiration.
  3. Youth Engagement Conferences: These should target youth, parents and coaches.
  4. Creation of an SSH Video: Create a 12-15 minute video to introduce SSH and the movement’s Principles
  5. Personalize the Principles: Find other ways to demonstrate the ways in which the Principles become personal and are part of the “change” conversation

Inspiring the Next Generation

The Muskoka Woods workshop reinforced the importance of engaging youth in the Sport at the Service for Humanity movement. By harnessing the passion and energy of this generation we have the opportunity to reach a demographic of our society who will embrace the Principles and become agents of change within their communities, their schools and their sports organizations.

As we look to the future of Sport for the Service of Humanity we must constantly consider the role that youth can play.