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Farmers Union youth participate in state camp

Posted: Monday, Jul 8th, 2013

Attending this year’s Farmers Union state camp from Beadle County were, front row, from left, Kelsey Paye, Cavour; and Madelyn Kline, Huron; second row, Bonnie Geyer, Farmers Union State Education Director, Huron; Sarah Beals, Huron; Alexandra Waldner, Huron; Kortney Sterrett, 2013 Farmers Union Summer Intern, Huron; Emma Smith, 2013 Farmers Union Summer Intern, Huron; and Abbey Tschetter, Huron; and in back, Brennan Paye, Cavour; and Aidan Beck, Huron, 2013 Senior Advisory Council and newly elected 2014 Junior Advisory Council member. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Young people from across the state participated in the South Dakota Farmers Union’s annual state camp June 2-7 at Storm Mountain Center near Rapid City.

Nearly 100 youth ages 14-19 spent the week setting up their own cooperative businesses, touring the Black Hills, listening to speakers and learning leadership and various life skills.

“This year’s state camp was an extraordinary time of learning as these young people participated in cooperative business training and learned valuable leadership skills that they will take with them for the rest of their lives,” said State Education Director Bonnie Geyer.

The week features many activities like hiking, sports and bonfires. There is also a tour day where youth go on tours in the Rapid City area. Speakers at this year’s state camp included Sioux Falls Storm head coach and Roosevelt High School teacher Kurtiss Riggs who spoke about leadership; Elaine Doll, a marathon runner in her 70s, spoke to the young people about personal motivation in her discussion called “Life is a marathon, so double tie your shoes!”

Troopers from the South Dakota Highway Patrol spoke to the campers about traffic safety, the dangers of texting and driving and underage drinking. Rebecca Caselli-Smith with Lutheran Social Services spoke to campers about bullying and self-esteem.

Throughout the week, young people run their own cooperatives. There’s the co-op store, newspaper, insurance company, and even a co-op coffee shop. Campers put real money into the credit union at the start of camp to buy things from the co-op store and they get a checkbook.

“These are real life scenarios that they’re living out during the week of camp,” Geyer said. “The kids that go to State Camp will be better prepared when they go to college and have to balance their bank accounts.”

They are all on boards of directors of their various cooperatives, take out loans, pay bills, and run a real business. On the last evening of camp, campers select the next year’s Junior Advisory Council (JAC), a group of six campers who have at least finished their junior year of high school.

This year’s JAC members are Tucker Greene of Plankinton; Dayton Trujillo of De Smet; Jackie Dethlefsen of Stickney; Chris Nemec of Holabird; Brooke Enright of Union Center; and Aidan Beck of Huron.

The six JAC members will help plan and facilitate the 2014 State Camp as well as help South Dakota Farmers Union throughout the year at different events including Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair. For more information about South Dakota Farmers Union’s youth education programs, visit the education page at www.sdfu.org.

For the complete article see the 07-07-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-07-2013 paper.

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