Robert's insights & revelations as he shares his message.

Local teen works to hone valuable leadership skills

By Karen D?Abate

Posted Mar. 19, 2003 at 2:00 AM
Updated Dec 17, 2010 at 8:37 AM

What would you say if you were asked, “Who are you and what do you have to offer?”

It’s a tough question, one that York resident Caitlin Crowe graciously responded to at the National Student Leadership Conference this past February.

She said, “I’m a hard-working, dedicated, and caring person and what I have to offer is my time and my heart.”

On Feb. 16, Caitlin, a junior at York High School, traveled solo to Arlington, Va., where she spent 60 hours mastering leadership with 170 participants from across the country.

Caitlin and her roommate, Rosalyn, from Florida, shared a hotel room at the Courthouse Plaza, where they were able to reflect on each day’s life-altering exercises, from the rope course to walks through the woods blindfolded.

Their host, Robert Pruitt, a 35-year-old domestic violence facilitator with the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County in Maryland, challenged students with group initiatives, encouraging them to take risks – both physical and emotional.

Not only did Caitlin climb the rock wall, she embraced the diversity of her peers, discovering the benefits of teamwork.

During one workshop, Pruitt distinguished four dominant personalities: the loud and aggressive lion, the social and community-focused peacock, the caring and quiet koala, and the analytical owl. He drew a chuckle from the students as he imitated key characteristics, inviting students into groupings based on their own personal traits.

Classified as part owl, part koala, Caitlin said, “One of my teachers once described me as a quiet leader. I can take charge, especially in smaller groups of people, but I like to do it peacefully. Everyone has to get along.”

The week’s events included a field trip to the Smithsonian and Holocaust museums, and seminars with two guest speakers: Dr. Paul Lisnek, the executive director of the NSLC, presenting “The Art of Communication and The Art of Negotiation,” and Dr. Sal Corbin presenting “The Psychology of Group Dynamics.”

Leadership skills were tested during a group activity when students were introduced to 10 imaginary acquaintances only to discover that an emergency forced them to choose five of their new friends to survive in a bomb shelter with limited supplies.

“Groups were made up of people from each of the personality traits,” explained Caitlin, “and each of us had something to contribute.”

This wasn’t Caitlin’s first visit to the Washington, D.C. area. On History Day in 1999, she and her seventh-grade partner won the Smithsonian Award for her rotating exhibit depicting the impact of the electron microscope on history.

Her list of extra-curricular activities includes figure skating, substitute and junior coaching, girls cross country team (one of next year’s captains), volunteer math tutor, second-grade classroom volunteer, Club Interact, Prom Committee, National Honor Society, and playing the piano.

Caitlin spent her February break taking risks and trying new things.

“I want to seize every opportunity and help people,” she said. “It was so inspirational, I feel like I should start a leadership club.”

Caitlin was selected for the NSLC by a nomination process. She was able to choose from a variety of conferences and attendance dates, and each participant received a college admission letter of recommendation with an emphasis on leadership exercises and simulations.

Tuiton for the program ranges from $699-$1,799, depending on the course selected. For additional fees students can earn college credits.

Interested candidates should call the National Student Leadership Conference at (800) 994-NSLC or send an e-mail to: