BRATTLEBORO >> Summer is the time for camp, and the Center for New Leadership at the Marlboro College Graduate Center is organizing a one-day summer camp on July 29 for grown-ups who work with non-profit organizations.
Hillary Orsini, Assistant Director of the Center for New Leadership, explained that the camp is for people in a wide variety of roles. "It's really for anybody who works with a nonprofit — administrators, volunteers, board members, leadership and staff, as well as anyone who is an alum of one of our Center Programs."
The Nonprofit Management Summer Camp, which will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature a selection of workshops as well as traditional camp fare.
"It's like a daylong adult summer camp," said Julie Van der Horst Jansen, the Center's business manager. "It combines learning new things in a fun way, a workshop way, with food, activities, games — and smores."
Van der Horst Jansen said that the day will include workshops on time management and the role of trust and shared leadership. Kim Lier, Teaching and Learning Specialist, added that participants will also be able to focus on clarifying their values, storytelling and presentation skills, and fundraising.
She also noted that participants can expect to gain more than new skills from the camp.
"There are the activities, but one goal is networking and community building," she said. Orsini was enthusiastic about the camp's potential. "People come from all over the region, and as far as Washington, D.C., and the workshops are high-impact and active and tool-based. So you really learn in a relaxed environment where you're making real connections with other people."
The Center for New Leadership is celebrating its first anniversary.
"We're officially a year old now," said Van der Horst Jansen. "We created the Center for an umbrella for all the activities we do that are non-credit- bearing. So we have cohort programs like the Certificate in Nonprofit Management or the Board Leadership Institute."
Lier explained that another program Women's Leadership Circles, is county-based. "This fall it's being offered in Windham County. Women leaders from the community — 10 to 12 — come together. They focus on leadership skills and personal development. They have a retreat at the beginning and then meet monthly through the year.
"The idea is to create a supportive community in the county who can meet together and continue their relationship after the program ends — and many do."
"This is the third or fourth time we've done this in Windham County, Van der Horst Jansen added, "and we've done it in Chittenden County, in the Upper Valley and in Bennington."
The Center also offers a Nonprofit Management Certificate programs once a year.
"This year we're running it in Keene in partnership with the Hannah Grimes Center," said Van der Horst Jansen. "And we're running it in Waterbury. It's an 80-hour program. It meets Fridays from 8:30 to 4:30 for 10 weeks. The participants are people who work in or want to work in nonprofits or who want to start them. It ranges from executive directors to board members, staff, and volunteers, and any staff at any level, from large and small nonprofits.
"It's one of our strongest cohort programs because they spend so much time together," she went on. "People come out really transformed — because of the training and because of the community. Oftentimes when you're in a nonprofit, you feel a little isolated, especially if you're in a small one, but even in a large one, but here you're in a community of people all looking to improve their practice and network and support one another."
Lier said that while the workshops address management, fundraising, marketing and conflict resolution, participants have lot to offer one another. "In the process they talk about themselves and their organizations all the time. Someone may say, 'I have this challenge,' and someone else will say, 'Talk to me afterward, I'll tell you what we did.' They really help each other. It's fun to watch the connections bud and grow."
The Summer Camp will offer similar opportunities to network, according to Lier. "The great thing is that this is the third summer camp, and we have people who have come to all of them."
"Last year I came upon two women on the couch next to each other, and they were laughing and chatting," Orsini recalled. "I asked, 'Oh, do you work at the same organization?' and they said, 'No, we're camp friends,' and I realized that they had just met that day."
The registration fee for the day includes a light breakfast, lunch, and smores, as well as coffee and tea throughout the day.
"Not everyone comes ready to play," Lier said, "but usually by the time they leave, they've played."
"I think that levity in professional development is hard to find," Orsini commented, "and adults deserve a summer camp too."
For more information, or to register, visit www.marlboro.edu/news/story/3636/Nonprofit%20Management%20Summer%20Camp.
Maggie Brown Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.