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Norwich University successfully hosts leadership challenge weekend


Over the weekend of March 29th to the 31st, the Admissions Office hosted another Leadership Challenge Weekend (LCW) – one of their various leadership camps designed to give prospective students a glimpse into the Norwich experience.

Students from all over the country who are interested in coming to Norwich after they graduate high school are able to stay on campus for the weekend, and they get exposed to both the Rook lifestyle as well as the many opportunities and amenities that Norwich boasts.

Typically, these LCW camps are hosted three times every academic year: in December, February, and March.

The most recent event was especially significant in the history of these admissions-sponsored programs, as a total of 94 students were in attendance – more than twice the average number of attendants at past LCWs.

“Not only are these camps some of the best recruiting tools Norwich has, but I think it’s also a deal maker for a lot of these kids,” said Scott Wills, the associate director of recruitment and leadership programs at Norwich University since 2021.

“When you’re looking at colleges, the main thing that’s going to sell you is a visit,” Wills said when talking about the effectiveness of these camps. “And these events are what helps a lot of kids make up their minds.”

For example, 58 of the participants in these admissions-sponsored leadership camps were rooks during the 2023-2024 school year. And by the time of recognition, 57 of them stuck it through and became cadets.

To put that in perspective, the total amount of prospective students that attended the three camps last year was 104 – and about half of those participants went on to attend Norwich. This most recent event, however, had 94 – which is almost just as many participants as all of the 2023 events combined.

Not only is 94 a great turnout for an event like this, but it also makes for a much more unique and challenging leadership dynamic in terms of how the camp is run.

“We were all rooks just last year, so we all have an understanding of how these things should work as first-timers,” said Vev Gupta, 22, a sophomore corp of cadets management from Nevada. “And one of the two platoon sergeants for the event.

As a person in charge of a platoon of 30-40 prospects, Gupta was adamant about giving the prospective students a real taste of Norwich and the lifestyle both it and Rookdom provide.

“What matters the most is getting the word out there and making sure incoming college students recognize Norwich as a military college just as important as VMI or any of the service academies,” Gupta said.

With a record-setting number of participants at this weekend’s event, there also comes an opportunity to influence the kids in a way that wasn’t possible before.

“Despite being called a Leadership Challenge Weekend, there’s not a whole lot of challenge to it – it’s more about the experience,” said Kaylan Duncan, an associate director of admissions.

“Sometimes kids come here [to an LCW] and are doing a lot more than they’ve done in their whole life…and sometimes there are the rockstar athlete kids who come here and think they know what they’re doing and waste their time. But the important thing is that they’re getting the Norwich experience and all the things that make us unique as America’s oldest private military college,” Duncan said.

From a recruiting and marketing tool that sells incoming students at Norwich University to the more meaningful and impactful experiences that can give them a glimpse into the Rook and military lifestyle (which also hopefully gets them to come to Norwich), these leadership camps hosted by the Admissions Office are an essential part of both keeping recruiting numbers up and cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.

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About the Contributor
Bennett Oakes
Bennett Oakes, Staff Reporter
Bennett Oakes is a staff reporter for the Guidon.
He is a sophomore in the Corps of Cadets in the Class of 2026. Pursuing a major in Communications and a minor in Spanish, Oakes is an active member of the Norwich Tennis Team. He has expressed enjoyment in writing overall and watching and reviewing movies.
Outside Norwich, Bennett likes to sail, kayak, and do anything to get out on the water and in the sun.
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