The first night started out with a dinner with the usual introductory speeches. Then, we went into our small groups for our first session. I didn’t know anyone so I was rather quiet for most of the day, still confused as to why everyone says Ruck is so great. However, the second day was quite a bit different. I spoke out a lot more in the small group sessions and was learning more about myself as a leader. Then, we did a rather challenging activity. We had 100 “values” in front of us and had to narrow them down to the 5 most important to us. If you’re curious, mine were health, passion, genuineness, justice, and ecology.
The next morning, everyone knew what was coming. The Frank Butterfield workout was next on the itinerary. For me, this workout was extremely personal as I have been dealing with multiple injuries for the past 3 years. I persevered through this 2-hour workout uninjured, but I don’t think I could have done that without the support of all of the brothers beside me. All of us were tired, but we were about to get an unexpected wakeup call. Two women, Evelyn Piazza and Rae Ann Gruver, shared the story of their tragic sons’ deaths due to hazing. SigEp has a no-hazing policy, but I’m sure some of us are aware of other organizations that exhibit this behavior. This presentation showed me that it’s up to greek life organizations to prevent other greek life from needlessly injuring or killing young college students. Following such a heavy presentation, our discussions in the small group became more serious and focused, looking at the bigger picture.
Before I knew it, it was our last full day in Richmond and the last official day of Ruck. We started the morning by going on a walk with Steve Shanklin. This man knows just about everything there is to know when it comes to SigEp. I’m sure we all know the generic history, but he gave the motivations behind every action of Uncle Billy, Carter Ashton Jenkins, and all of the founding fathers. He used the beautiful University of Richmond campus as a metaphor for SigEp’s journey and innovation through history, then ended by inspiring us to continue this innovation. To loosen up from all of the SigEp talk, we had an ultimate frisbee tournament. Green Team’s awesome facilitators were the only ones to buy their team matching shirts for the tournament. This is where some unexpected guys started shining. My brother Peter, a more timid and quiet guy in the group sessions, seemingly woke up an animal inside. He was yelling his head off, inspiring the whole team to stay motivated and energized. No, Green Team was not the most athletic, but we won 2 of 3 games and definitely had the most fun out of any team. We finished up our last small group session on leadership and headed out to the closing dinner.
At the first dinner, I was rather nervous and sat there quietly. At the last dinner, sitting with the same guys, we were cracking jokes, having philosophical discussions, and just enjoying each other’s company. By this time, I was starting to see the real beauty and importance of Ruck. Our last small group session was a wrap up for the week. Even though we had already sat through nearly 24 hours of small group discussions, none of us wanted this one to be the last. We ended the night with a gavel pass. This was the most impactful gavel pass I will ever be a part of and is one of the most special moments of my entire life. Yeah, everyone learned valuable leadership skills, but we all learned something else that was even more important. During the gavel pass, I realized how similar I was to everyone in my group. Guys shared about how uninspired they were about SigEp and how they didn’t really see themselves as a leader. But, by the end of Ruck, we all felt empowered and ready to take on any task. As brother Justin, NY Delta, said, “I feel like I just rejoined SigEp.” Although Ruck officially ended at 11 p.m. and we were all extremely tired. My small group walked around campus and talked until 2 a.m. when we couldn’t stay awake any longer. To summarize: Ruck made me believe in myself and SigEp again. I have the tools and ability to change my life and lead others. It’s up to me now to make my facilitators proud and use what they taught me. Also, I have a groupchat with 21 other SigEp leaders across the country which is just amazing. I will never forget what Green Team and the Ruck Leadership Institute have done for me. VDBL