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Leadership Newton County kicks off
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Imagine this: Your local leaders gathered recently in a secluded lodge in Newborn, Ga., engaged in team-building activities, relay races, classroom learning, enjoying good food and fellowship, and developing a plan to give back to the community. This happened at the retreat kickoff for the Leadership Newton County Class of 2013-2014!

Leadership Newton County is focused on taking new, emerging or potential leaders from the local community and strengthening them to become even stronger leaders for the area.

Every year, approximately 24 leaders from Newton County are selected to participate in a program sponsored by the Newton County Chamber of Commerce. These individuals come from our large corporations — General Mills, CR Bard, Michelin — and our government entities — Newton County Sheriff’s Office, City of Covington Police and Fire, and our small businesses/organizations such as Eastridge Church and McKibben’s Music.

This year, the kickoff of Leadership Newton County was held at Burnt Pine Lodge in Newborn. Aaron Nicholson, a consultant from Project Adventure, playfully led activities to help classmates learn one another’s names, learn to work as a team to allow them to strategize and problem-solve, and enhance their current leadership abilities. His tactical approach to these activities was a bit unconventional and fun-filled for the typical adult leader: squishy balls, colorful blocks, hula-hoops, pop-its, ropes and numbered circles. These leaders demonstrated team-building through creating elephants, rabbits and deer, and played "Zip Zap: Left, Right, You" and "Bippity Boppity." These titles have a kid-like feel, but every activity was designed to reiterate this year’s class theme — "Character, the Roots of Leadership."

There were many laughs, lots of fun, plenty of sunshine and a large group of adults who enjoyed playing outside! The first night of the retreat ended with a great dinner and a bonfire with guitars and singing. Who would have thought that so many leaders in this class could be so musically talented?

Saturday morning’s agenda included a classroom-style meeting that featured Hunter Hall, Newton County Chamber of Commerce president, presenting "The Four Hats of Leadership." The class project was also presented, so that classmates could begin thinking about how they plan to collectively give back to the community.

LNC committee Chair Teyuna Chandler, from Georgia Power, said: "The class is fantastic and I look forward to seeing both their growth and ours. In my opinion, this weekend is sheer evidence that we are headed in the right direction. If we continue to build on this success, I truly feel that we can’t do anything but get better from here!"

LNC meets once a month for 10 months, with each meeting focusing on local and state levels of services, where classmates immerse themselves in the surrounding community. From tours of our local police departments and hospitals to volunteering at non-profit organizations in the community, LNC takes a hands-on approach to learning about Newton County. This year’s class is challenged to A.R.E.: Attend, React, Engage.

Chris Walker is the director of business operations at Game Time, a Covington-based entertainment center. She can be reached at 770-385-7288 or at