Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Youth Leadership Retreats

A Taste of College

Are you a leader?

Do you want to be a leader?

Do you want to practice and improve your leadership skills?


A Taste of College:

Youth Leadership Retreat*

Skill-Building and Application in Springfield, MA

8:30 am July 29 – 9:00 PM July 31, 2011

at UMass Amherst


This is your chance to get out of town and take action to make Springfield a stronger city where all youth can excel.  This is also a great opportunity for you to experience a taste of life on a college campus. This Retreat brings adult and youth facilitators together to coach each other into becoming better, more effective and successful leaders.  Participants will explore questions such as:


  • What are the environmental conditions for successful leadership?
  • What are the warning signs of leadership failure?
  • Is everyone a leader?
  • When, and why, should leaders behave like a follower?
  • Is leading about the leader, the group, or the goal?
  • Do leaders work alone or with other leaders?


Issues that require leadership attract people with various motivations.  “Leading” and “following” both involve dealing with hope & fear, belief & misunderstanding, shared and different histories, and a range of possible futures.


In order to focus attention and ground the learning experience, participants are charged with the mission of designing a series of Public Service Announcements on issues of common concern. Together, we will go through several crucial leadership steps, including:


  • collecting and assessing what people know and don’t know
  • challenging and confirming  ideas with evidence
  • defining a shared vision for the future
  • making connections between knowledge and skills, needs and limits
  • designing action steps
  • creating and assigning responsibility for evaluation of the outcome


At the end of the Taste of College Retreat, participants will have learned new skills, made new friends, envisioned a future, and taken steps to get there.

Designed and Presented as a Learning Lab for ResiliencyTM

Co-sponsored by the Center on Communication for Sustainable Social Change

Funded by Youth First! and the Mass Alliance on Teen Pregnancy

Fiscal Agent: New North Citizens Council, Springfield MA




The Taste of College Learning Lab/Retreat begins when you board the bus from Springfield at 8:30 am on Friday July 29, 2011 and ends when the bus returns you to Springfield at 9:00 pm Sunday July 31, 2011.


Each participant is responsible for getting to the pick-up location on time (8:30 am Friday July 29) and being picked up from it, also on time (8:45 pm Sunday July 31, 2011).


More transportation details will be posted here on this website by July 20, 2011.


During the Learning Lab/Rettreat, you will be introduced to the UMass Campus by a UMasa Admissions tour guide and also visit the studio of Amherst Community Television.


  • Details of the daily schedule will be announced when participants arrive.


  • You will be staying two-to-a-room in Brett House, which is in the Central Residence Area of the UMass Amherst campus.


  • Roommate assignments will be made by Taste of College or UMass Housing staff.


  • Adult chaperones will be present overnight.


  • Meals and bed linens provided. Most meals will be eaten in the Worcester Dining Hall; at least one meal will be in the Blue Wall student cafeteria.


What you need to bring:


  • Toiletries
  • Towel
  • Clothes for three full days – be aware, there is no air-conditioning in the dorm!
  • Pajamas
  • A copy of your medical insurance card
  • Technology (if you have it, whatever you have – be prepared to share favorite games, videos, applications, etc). A temporary wireless pass to access the campus wifi will be provided.
  • Any other items you feel you will need, as long as nothing violates the Taste of College Learning Lab/Retreat Code of Conduct



Contact info: 

Email (preferred):

Cell phone: 860 255 4371, Stephanie Jo Kent, Founder, Learning Lab for ResiliencyTM