Our Meet a Member champions, Bec and Mason, caught up with James Holland who initially became involved as a Dark Blue Grouper at the 2014 Lord Somers Camp.
How has your involvement with Lord Somers Camp and Power House shaped you as a leader?
This organisation provides a platform where young, aspiring leaders can step into difficult management roles, make mistakes, and grow without the risk of judgement. At least, this has been my experience. Over the years volunteering with LSC&PH, I have been given a safe space where I was free to try, fail and learn as a leader. I don’t think anyone is born a natural leader, and when I first took on a management role – Activities HOD at Mirabel Camp in 2016 – I had a long way to go. I was somehow insecure, overconfident and panic-y all at the same time.
At different points during intervening years in various roles, I have made plenty of mistakes. I’ve forgotten to organise backup activities as a wet weather contingency even when a torrential flood was forecast, I’ve lost more walkie talkies than I can count, I’ve unconsciously undermined leaders that I’ve worked under, and I’ve thrown rather incredible temper tantrums after not getting positions I thought I deserved. I have been insensitive, late and demanding. I’ve engaged in gossip and refused help. I know that I’ve hurt some people and for that, I apologise. If I was making these errors outside of LSC&PH, I probably would have never gotten a 7th or 8th or 9th chance. However, through LSC&PH’s culture and facilitation of feedback and improvement, I have had the opportunity to become a more considerate, empathetic leader.
From Lucy Donaldson, I have learnt how to communicate with people from a broader set of backgrounds. From Geoff Travaskis, I learnt how to demonstrate authenticity in my decisions and not to disguise insecurity with machismo. From Vikki Deak, I have learnt about how self-acceptance is essential in effective leadership, as well as countless other lessons from countless other people. I have benefitted from many frank and fearless discussions about my performance and because the opportunity to grow and learn was afforded to me without judgement, I am in the position to support other young people who come up after me.
LSC&PH has also shaped my leadership style by exposing me to a wide range of management styles and techniques. The beauty of this organisation lies in its membership’s diversity both in terms of background, age, and gender but also, personality types. By experiencing a multitude of styles, and asking for mentoring from a few trusted LSC&PH elders, I have gotten better at adapting my natural management style to suit different people and contexts.
What does ‘community’ mean to you after being involved with LSC&PH?
LSC&PH’s values of fellowship and solidarity have helped me overcome challenges I would have otherwise not been able to manage. Because of what I have learned through Somers, I have come a long way in accepting all aspects of my identity. Prior to Somers, I always carried around a mental backpack, full of different insecurities and failures. Serving at Community Camps and overcoming challenges at Big Camp have taught me to stop putting things into my backpack. More than that, the friendships that I have formed have helped me slowly take things out of the backpack. It is incredible to know that you have an entire community of people behind you, even if you fail. That empowers me.
In five words, describe how LSC&PH has impacted you.
Less insecurity, more laughter.
Why should people be involved in our programs?
LSC&PH gives people an opportunity to grow intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Without camp, I know I can often lose perspective and become overwhelmed by my own myopic concerns. By embracing the organisation’s philosophy of service without seeking recognition, I have gotten better at focusing on others, which helps them and me feel better. LSC&PH gives community to those who feel alone, a sense of belonging to those who feel untethered, and an opportunity to give back to those who have been unfortunate in their lives.
Why do you continue to be involved in LSC&PH programs?
First and foremost, ATLAS Camp is an absolute hoot! The participants are so sassy and fun, I wish I could be at ATLAS all the time. It has been phenomenal seeing the camp grow and strengthen as new partner organisations have come on board and we have been able to grow our participant numbers (prior to covid but we will get back to where we were). I have been involved since 2016 and have been lucky to have learned so much under Lucy, Teedo, and Maggie. Seeing as I am almost three years into my one and half year term as the Camp Leader, I am also very excited to hand the program on to the next generation of leaders which include some of the most intelligent and kind culturally diverse young people that I could ever hope to work with.
I am also very fortunate to be involved with the MAX committee this year and am looking forward to returning to Big Camp in January. Catch ya in the creek!