Student accepts 'challenge' again

Most people have never heard of a retreat called the Shelton Challenge, except Jade Stewart.

Stewart, a junior at Newton-Conover High School, has participated in this experience for two years and was accepted for a third year as a peer leader.

"The camper is the first stage of the camp and after you have been a camper you can apply to be a peer leader, which is like a camp counselor," said Stewart.

Stewart's was a camper her first year and became a peer leader her second year. She will hold the peer leader position her third year, too.

"My first year as a camper, I got to be involved in all the tasks that the Shelton Challenge had to offer, but my second year as a peer leader, I had to step back and allow the campers to experience the change that was occurring," Stewart said, "This year I hope to be more prepared for the peer leader position, since it will be my third year."

The Challenge was created in 2002 by former Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Henry Hugh Shelton,and takes places every summer. Shelton's intent on creating this camp was hoping to shape leaders for the future.

Stewart first heard about the Challenge through an announcement her freshman year asking if anyone was interested in a GEAR-UP scholarship for a leadership camp.

GEAR-UP is a program in North Carolina that helps high school students get information on applying for college.

"Due to the fact [that] this type of leadership training would look good on my college transcripts because it shows I am involved, I applied," said Stewart.

To get into this program, students fill out an application, get two teacher references and write about why you want to participate.

"I got my application at the beginning of January and found out that I was accepted in February, " said Stewart, "Overall, the process was pretty quick."

Stewart's experience in the camp shaped her to become a well-rounded individual.

"I sign-up for the Shelton Challenge because it really has a lasting impact on my life," she said, "Not only do I meet all kinds of people, but I have a blast all week long. Other benefits are that I make long-lasting relationships with many different people, who could possibly help me in the future."

Stewart hopes to pursue a career choice as a pharmacist.

"The Shelton Challenge, I think, will help me in the long run because I will need the skills of working with others and setting an example of leading in my career choice," said Stewart.

During the Challenge, campers get to do activities, such as community service projects, low- and high-rope courses, public speaking, game night, dance and team bonding.

To prepare for this experience, Stewart took the role as secretary for the National Technical Honor Society and National Honor Society. Also, she has a part-time job at Bowman Drug Store in Conover.

"With my outgoing personality I always like to better myself as a person and get [a] task done. The Shelton Challenge allowed me to see how I can still be a leader without always being in charge by listening to others and allowing them to lead," said Stewart.

The Challenge will be at N.C. State University, UNC-Charlotte, North Carolina Wesleyan and Fayetteville State University.

Stewart will attend at N.C. State in Raleigh from July 10-15. While there, the campers will stay in Bowen Hall and eat at Clarke Dining Hall.

After the camp, Stewart works on the Shelton Council and has meetings to find ways to improve the camp for the future.

Stewart also plans to apply to the Challenge again for a fourth year, but as a college mentor leader.