From 13-24, I was out in Lansdowne, VA at the National Conference Center taking a leadership course titled "Preparing for the Challenge". To be perfectly honest, I was pretty apprehensive about the course, especially as I have taken numerous courses on the topic and even re-vamped a 5-day leadership course for junior sailors back in my Navy days (a whole two years ago - seems like a lifetime!). Still, I really needed a break from the office drama and welcomed a chance for a breather, even if it did mean that Drew had to deal with our three little munchkins by himself for nearly two weeks (it was an overnight thing).
Luckily for me, I actually really enjoyed myself! Once people started to connect and open up, things went very well. We had a great time one day out at the National Training Center doing outdoors-y type activities, and we had some phenomenal guest speakers (one of my favorites was the guy who taught "Leadership Lessons from Star Trek" - my inner geek loved it!).
However, I think the best day of all was our trip out to Antietam Battlefield. Our guide, Greg, does historical reenactments pretty much full-time these days, and it was an amazing experience. He taught us about some of the leadership choices made on both sides of the battle by taking on the persona of various soldiers present during the battle. Greg had a book with letters and personal accounts from many of the solders there that day, and you could feel and see what they went through as you stood at sites around the battlefield.
Each of us also selected a person to be that day (I was Maj Gen Fitz J. Porter) and we were responsible for conducting research in advance on our characters so that we knew what choices they made and why. As a Historical and Political Studies major as an undergrad with a focus on American History, I had a fantastic time with this evolution. I took some pictures, which you can see here. It was a humbling and heartbreaking experience, and one that I hope to have my children experience one day.
All in all, it was a great experience. I've made some wonderful friends, some of whom I have already bumped into at the office! We're planning to hold "reunions" quarterly so that we can keep in touch, which should be interesting from a VTC scheduling standpoint as some of my classmates are not located in the DC area. I was planning to bake brownies - maybe I should send some to my geographically dispersed classmates...? ;)