Building Leadership Skills through Tourism

How to introduce leadership skill-building opportunities on a student tour

Students in classroom

Educators, consider adding an additional component to your student travel experience by offering students opportunities that build leadership skills. Explore turning some traditional “adult chaperone” roles over to students.  Leadership skill development can be as simple as the responsibility of being a bus captain or leading the group into a restaurant. The possibilities are endless, and any opportunity that positively empowers a young adult helps build leadership skills.  What better way to build these skills than with a captive audience under the direct supervision, guidance and support of the tour leader and chaperones?

Leadership Skill Workshops

Educators can take leadership skill-building up a notch by supplementing their tour with a leadership workshop.  If worried about squeezing yet another activity into a tour, turn evening time at the hotel into a learning experience.  Rather than supervising students who are wandering the hotel halls, visiting vending machines or swimming in the pool, offer a workshop that builds leadership skills.

In the Washington, D.C. area, several university professors have developed workshops that can be brought to a group’s hotel.  Such workshops, often just 90-minute vignettes, introduce students to topics like debate in everyday life, how legislation is truly developed and how small gestures of kindness can touch many lives.  The benefits of such workshops outweigh their cost and have a lasting impact.

Leadership Conferences

A simple Google search results in a wide variety of organized leadership conferences for students. Ranging from three-day conferences to week-long camps, the choices are varied. Some conferences are by invite only and at times those invites are the results of marketing efforts. However, a simple invite received in the mail can be a real confidence booster to a young adult.  Cost can be a factor in attending a conference or camp, but costs can be offset by fundraising or possibly grants.

Educators can develop their own leadership conference and can start by canvassing students on subject matter to include. It can be argued that just this solicitation alone is a step toward building leadership skills.  When students feel their voices are heard, and their ideas turn into reality, confidence is boosted and students feel empowered to further share.

Educators may want to start by organizing a leadership conference at the local level, reaching out to vendors in their hometown to  supplement the conference, such as a visit to a local town meeting or a meeting with a local government official.  Recently, a friend of mine who is the township supervisor in Wauconda, Illinois spoke at the hometown high school on local government policies.  His well-rounded presentation inspired students to ask questions and no doubt formulated thoughts for some students on how they could get involved and make an impact on their local community.  Local efforts such as this build student interest and may lead educators to seek out formalized leadership conferences.

Youth of Today are Tomorrows Leaders

It’s obvious to all that today’s young adults are tomorrow’s leaders, and educators certainly agree.  Those educators who offer students travel opportunities are forward-thinking and understand travel exposes students to the larger world.  The challenge posed by this article is to take a student tour and step it up one notch by offering leadership skill-building opportunities. Whether it’s a small effort such as having a student in charge of leading the group into a site, offering a leadership workshop on tour of a the larger effort of developing or attending a leadership conference, such opportunities no doubt build confidence.  And leaders are confident.