TSCHR Chaplain's Office Fosters Student Leadership

Story Number: NNS181220-13Release Date: 12/20/2018 1:39:00 PM
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By Robin Holland, TSCHR Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- On any given day, the Training Support Center Hampton Roads (TSCHR) Chaplain’s Office makes their rounds among TSCHR’s five learning sites, engaging students and staff with interactive briefs, exercises and appointments.  Each effort builds resiliency in relationships and shares the language of leadership.

Chaplain Lt. Cary Shinn and Religious Person 3rd Class Adey Oluwadamilola have their work cut out for them with 39 separate unit identification codes and an annual student through put of 77,000 students. 

“Our primary role is ‘Advisement’ into a vast area of responsibility, building upon RADM Cozad’s bridge from 'street-to-fleet' requires creativity far beyond the reach of a cell phone,” said Shinn.  “Relationships have to be tangible.”

TSCHR’s interactive briefs are tailored, so young Sailors and Marines can relate.  Each fun filled exercise is designed to reach students with life-long lessons where their role as team players evolves toward leadership applications.

Shinn’s use of 19 sticks and the heritage of Chaplain Cmdr. Joseph O’Callahan, USS Ben Franklin CV-13, 1945, gave rise to how unintentional leadership and resourcefulness allowed a simple chaplain’s actions to save the lives aboard a severely damaged ship bombed from a lone Japanese aircraft earning O’Callahan the Medal of Honor. 

“That historical day, Leadership and Ownership were the two hardest ships to keep afloat and Big Ben lived on,” said Shinn.

The Human Ladder exercise barrowing from Shinn’s 16 years of Christian Camp Management, unsuspecting leaders were tasked to volunteer, build a team, embrace objectives, allocate resources and exercise safety.  Over 40 rotating participants shouldered in together holding up 19 wooden sticks, as ladder rungs for another student to crawl on.   As the student clears some of the rungs, holders rotated forward like a conveyer belt providing an evolving platform, for the crawler to move across the hanger and around another group of students.  The group challenge fosters group thinking teamwork, and trust. 

“To build the ladder, all participants must combine what they have learned from past experiences, working together, thinking together, teamwork, trust and ultimately learning to overcome personal barriers.  To complete the leadership ladder, the audience of observers shifted into participants.  This is how we fight the ship and forge the language of shipmates and Marines” said Shinn. 

“The human ladder was a great exercise,” said Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Joseph Giordano, Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit.  “The whole exercise was fun, involved and it taught me team work, to accept others ideas and inputs and it will definitely help me to think outside the box while in training.” 


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