Dynamic Learning and Innovative Support for CU Student Leaders
There is no lack of leadership opportunities at Cornerstone University. From resident assistant positions to heading a chapel band, there are always openings. Cornerstone has always been a place that strives to create leaders. Dedicated faculty and supporters work to offer every opportunity to help students grow so they are ready to take on the world when they graduate. Chip Huber, associate vice president for student development and athletics, leads an annual trip to Colorado to do just that.
While Chip has led other student trips to Noah’s Ark, a Christian outdoor adventure company, since the 1990s, the CU Leadership Training trips officially started two years ago. As with all the leadership opportunities on campus, student development staff wanted to create a way to help prepare students who will be filling these roles. There was “a desire to create a different type of leadership training experience for students at Cornerstone. One that wasn’t so much focused on training and conversation here but to take them into a more experiential learning situation,” Huber said.
The week-long trip starts out with a flight to Denver and a drive to the Rocky Mountains. The group then starts their adventure with a white water rafting excursion. Huber explained the activity as a practice in vision. The person guiding the boat has to make their way through the rapids without flipping over. This implies being aware of your environment and planning where to go. In a leadership position, it is important to see the path forward and lead your team through the rapids.
After that comes the high ropes adventure course. This activity teaches the value of trust and helps build community. With one particular part of the course, commonly known as “the leap of faith,” participants must leap off a platform and grab onto a bar. It symbolizes the metaphorical jump to trusting in God’s leadership for one’s life.
Finally is the three-day, two-night backpacking trip. The group travels into the mountains to disconnect from technology and spend time with God. They take time away from the rush and business of everyday life to create space for God and their peers.
Each activity is carefully planned and focused around teaching principles of leadership. Each day focuses on a specific leadership theme and has curriculum materials the group studies and discusses together.
According to Kara Martin, resident director of Keithley Hall and a past trip participant, “the staff of Cornerstone and Noah’s Ark really go all in for the students.” CU is a school that cares about investing in its leaders.
“As I was spending time one-on-one with God, I was really struck by how I had spiritually grown in my time at Cornerstone,” Martin said. “I realized that the past three years had been preparation for God to change me. I was inspired to fully engage with my senior year instead of starting to check out.”
Leadership is about more than theory; it benefits from a full-heart commitment to teaching and leading by example, while also finding innovative ways of experiential learning. Offering these new experiences is transformative to students because it benefits every aspect of their lives now and in the future. With these skills, their lives and careers can be positively impacted.
“Some of us who are a little older in leadership can easily grow cynical and feel like we are stuck in the same old stuff,” Huber said. “I love the new ideas and freshness with which college students approach problems, situations, issues, and I love that they are hopeful and inspired that they can make things better. I love that I can still learn from them and they have a lot to teach me. It is a mutual community experience. I love that I get to be part of a high-functioning team.”