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A tradition at the Daniels College of Business since 1991, graduate students spend a weekend with nature learning from one another about leadership and their own personal strengths and weaknesses. This weekend is known to students as Leading at the Edge.

Leading at the Edge is hosted at The Nature Place which is located on a nature sanctuary with over 6,000 acres located in Florrisant, Colorado, 40 miles west of Colorado Springs with the beautiful Pike’s Peak in the background. The Nature Place describes itself as “A natural sanctuary for people who may benefit from self-discovery and wonder.” I found this description to be extremely accurate and I felt I grew in numerous ways over the course of the weekend.

Not knowing exactly what to expect, early Friday morning students met in front of Daniels and filled two buses to embark on an unknown adventure. The weekend consisted of various outdoor activities such as climbing high ropes, navigating through the woods and scaling cliffs. My group was comprised of both students whom I already knew and some I met that day. Overall, I was very impressed and encouraged by everyone’s outgoing enthusiasm and courage.

Our first challenge was the high ropes course. The high pole challenge consisted of a telephone pole with pegs nailed in to climb. The hardest part was once you reached the top and had let go with your hands and balance on top before jumping to hit the rope attached a few feet away. At 10 a.m. I had jumped off a 30-foot telephone pole attached by a parachuting harness.

After spending a beautiful fall day with warm weather climbing ropes and trees we started the second day with orienteering. Orienteering consists of using a compass and topographic map to find various points on the map. At each point, we had challenges set up which forced our team to use every member’s skills and cooperation to complete successfully. After finishing the first few events with relative ease, our egos may have become a bit inflated before having a frustrating experience with our next challenge: the “Acid River”. These experiences and skills learned all set us up for the encounters that lay ahead of us on Sunday.

Early Sunday morning we were joined by a new member to our team, the new dean of the College, Dr. Brent Chrite. Sunday required the hard skills we had learned as well as the team chemistry and dynamic that had been formed. Challenges set up were all brand new and definitely required the input and collaboration (even from Dr. Chrite) in order to successfully complete them. While I was quite unsure of what to expect heading in, I truly enjoyed the weekend. I learned a lot about myself, gained trust and built bonds with my team members, and learned that leadership can come in multiple different forms and styles. I came back exhausted and a little dirty, but with memories and new relationships I hope will last far past my time here at Daniels. I truly believe that this weekend was very essential to my learning at Daniels as it forced us all to become leaders at some point and the relationships built with my classmates are invaluable.

Leading at the Edge: A Student Perspective

Brandon Hatter is an MBA Candidate and a Graduate Student Ambassador at Daniels.