Saturday, July 23, wrapped Community of Christ’s SPECTACULAR, a youth camp that Graceland hosts on our Lamoni campus. After a two-year hiatus, it was so wonderful to welcome these teenagers back to our campus for a week of sports, classes, and worship. SPECTACULAR’s 2022 theme was “Together” and I can think of no more fitting expression of the environment that we try to capture on our campuses and in our classrooms.
For many of these young people, this camp represented one of the biggest gatherings that they have been to outside of their school buildings since the pandemic began. I was able to meet with several of the students and I could almost see the energy vibrating off of them as they enjoyed time with their peers in our bucolic Iowa setting.
It also made me think about how lucky we have been at Graceland over these past two years to continue our in-person classes on our campuses. We believe that there is something special about being in each other’s presence and I’m so proud of the hard work that we have done to ensure that Graceland undergraduates have been able to continue throughout the pandemic in an in-person learning environment.
That pride comes from the knowledge that it is something that we too have done together. The Graceland community worked hard to keep each other safe on our campuses because we value the feeling that being together brings to each of us.
Togetherness is an important part of our culture and seeing it evidenced through the campers at SPECTACULAR only reinforced that to me as I reflected on my experiences this past week.
Students arrive on our campus in Lamoni soon and I am full of excitement. Student leaders and athletes arrive for preseason and training and the academic year begins anew. This group of first-year students will be the first ones to encounter our new Transformational Leadership major, which all students will begin receiving starting this fall in addition to their chosen discipline major. The work on this new major for everyone has been extensive and it has been done in a collaborative, collegial way to create a modern and exciting new academic offering that will not only prepare our students for success in their careers but will also teach them critical skills required to be successful in life.
It is an extremely exciting time to be the President of Graceland and I am enthusiastic about our future because if the past two years have taught me anything, it’s that we have the ability to accomplish difficult things as long as we walk together.