Bearden senior attends Marines’ leadership camp, broadens horizons


Photo courtesy of Max Grayson

Max Grayson (middle) tries to participate in leadership camps every summer.

Maggie Price, Entertainment Editor

Most high school students enjoy their summer on vacation and with friends. However, Bearden senior Max Grayson does something a little different – he focuses on how to grow as a leader.

In previous years, Grayson has attended multiple camps with leadership focuses, including Boys’ State, National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine at Emory University, and the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar at Trevecca Nazarene University.

This summer, he spent a week at the Marines’ Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy (SLCDA) in Washington D.C.

As far as leadership camps go, I try to get into a few every summer, so I knew I would be doing something like this a couple times this summer,” Grayson said. “In general, they are great experiences and chances to learn lots, meet new people, and see new places.”

He was also involved as a student ambassador in HonorAir, a program that takes veterans to Washington D.C. to see memorials and monuments in their honor. Grayson flew to D.C. for one day with Vietnam veterans and was able to sightsee with them. When they returned to the airport, people were there to welcome them home and celebrate their service.

“The purpose of the whole day was to show the veterans, who often feel unappreciated, that our community loves and supports them,” Grayson said. “It was a great opportunity to show my support and give back to the men and women who gave so much up for me.”

Despite all of the leadership camps Grayson has attended and his admiration for military, SLCDA was the first military-based camp he has attended. It focuses on more physical aspects rather than just the mental side of being a leader.

“Through different classes, obstacle courses, challenges, and simulations, every student got a chance to see what type of leader they are, and what they can do to improve themselves in regards to their style,” he said.

Grayson has always had high hopes for his future and is planning a medical career, but SLCDA changed his point of view on how to achieve his goals.

“I had really only considered the typical route of attending a 4-year university and then going straight to medical school,” he said. “However, this camp showed me that taking the route through the military has many benefits.”

Grayson now plans on applying to the Naval Academy in Maryland, something he had not considered before. SLCDA provided many opportunities and ideas for the students that attended. Grayson faced challenges while there, mainly going into the camp not knowing much about the military, but all of the students were welcoming and became a close group of friends.

SLCDA also gives students the chance to go into Washington D.C. to see some of the major monuments, the Holocaust Museum, hear a recipient of a Navy Cross speak, and visit places such as the headquarters of the Marines who fly the president. It creates experiences for students that they would not have had otherwise in their normal lives.

“I learned to be a better leader,” Grayson said. “I am better able to work in a team, whether I am in charge or doing what someone else tells me to do. I think I am much better prepared for the future, and now have more options to allow me to succeed.”