Lessons in Leadership: The BGGA Ambassador Program
The theory of Leadership can be taught in a classroom setting, but it is more effectively learned through experience. The ideal is for a combination of both, which is what we offer at BGGA, with Lessons in Leadership on Sunday evenings, to offer “leadership tools” to the Ambassadors and to debate practical issues that they have faced during the week, but their real learning is through the authority they exercise in their daily duties in their houses, in support of their golf coaches and in the various student activities.
Ambassadors are selected for their character and sense of responsibility, by the Director of Student Progress and Education, based on input received from house parents and golf coaches. For returning students, the appointment is made by the end of the previous year, but for new students the appointment is necessarily only made a few weeks into their first semester to allow responsible time for assessments to be made. The objective is to have a senior Ambassador, in their 12th grade, in each student house and a junior Ambassador, in their 11th grade, to support them in each student house, with the junior Ambassador graduating to become a senior Ambassador in their final year, giving them a year to develop the leadership skills and authority to be effective.
The principal responsibilities of Ambassadors are to assist with safety, order and cleanliness in each student house, working closely with their House-Parents who are their principal mentors. Clearly there are challenges in persuading their peer group house-mates to take on household tasks that they would prefer not to do, and to maintain order where relationships between friends become frayed, but these situations offer the leadership learning experiences that are so important. Rather than falling back on authoritarian punishments the leadership development that we encourage is one of influencing and persuading their peer group house-mates, with consequences a last resort. We also encourage Ambassadors to nominate students that make a difference in the BGGA community, with a limited number of stars awarded by a select group of Ambassadors who consider the nominations, and with students who gain sufficient stars in a semester gaining recognition with an outing of their collective choice.
Although clearly helpful in support of our House-Parents, we have found that the opportunity to develop as leaders amongst their peers is the greater merit in the program, and reflects well on the student in their college application and interview, both through their greater maturity and confidence, but also impressing college golf coaches that the student has gone through this leadership program. Of course, these same leadership experiences and lessons stay with the student throughout their lives and are likely to be relevant in their chosen career.
Foremost it is a privilege to be selected as an Ambassador, but we offer additional privileges to Ambassadors in appreciation for taking on these responsibilities, particularly for senior Ambassadors. A most wonderful program that has stood the test of time, with centuries of evolution in boarding schools and colleges throughout the world.