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Campers hope to build character / Ian Article
« on: June 24, 2005, 11:00:20 AM »
Campers hope to build character

By Anne Danahy

BARREE TOWNSHIP, Huntingdon County -- When Penn State graduate Ian Rosenberger was sitting for half a day on a buoy in Palau, competing for $1 million on the TV show "Survivor," he said he couldn't get images of the children he has volunteered to help out of his mind.

What kind of example would it set, Rosenberger wondered, for the Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon children who were watching if he sacrificed friendship to win?

"It's always going to be easier to take the million dollars. It's always going to be easier to take the easy way out," Rosenberger told 63 students who are participating in Character Camp this week at Stone Valley.

During his talk Wednesday, the 23-year-old spoke about the importance of what he called the "fire" of being a leader, which means having qualities such as creativity, perseverance and, especially, integrity.

"If you take that harder path, you're going to be a better person for it down the road," he said.

Rosenberger served as president of Penn State's Undergraduate Student Government before graduating last year.

He garnered national attention earlier this year on "Survivor: Palau" when, as one of three finalists, he gave up his shot at a $1 million and jumped off the buoy.

That message was a perfect fit for the three-day Character Camp, said Erik Orndorff, assistant principal of Pequea Valley School District in Lancaster County who is running the camp with his brother Bob Orndorff.

Bob Orndorff is associate director of career services and an assistant professor of counselor education at Penn State.

He wrote "Becoming the Best," a book based on his research that indicates most of the qualities employers look for are character-related.

"It's more about the person than it is hard skills," Bob Orndorff said.

It's the first year for the camp, which is supported with a $20,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. High school counselors nominated students who showed strong characters to take part.

Erik Orndorff said the activities at the camp vary -- volleyball, rowing and karaoke -- with the goal to build leadership, even in uncomfortable situations.

Bob Orndorff said the idea is to train the trainers.

"A big part of Friday is don't leave it at the camp," he said.

Elizabeth Hine, 17, and Casey Cartwright, 16, who will both be in 11th grade at Philipsburg-Osceola Area High School in the fall, seemed ready to do that. They appreciated the advice Rosenberger gave.

"I thought it was really good advice, how he said to enjoy college and what you want to do," Cartwright said.

She said her generation has many followers, so there is a need for "good leaders, especially ones who can put us on the right track."

Rosenberger said he plans to continue traveling and giving talks until August, when he'll head to Los Angeles in hopes of having a career directing movies.

Right now, he's splitting his time between Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, where his family lives.