Joining their peers from Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming, high school students Paige Claassen (Rolla) Meleny Jacome (Stanton County) developed leadership skills at the 41st annual Cooperative Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, from July 14-20. Approximately 100 youth learned about the cooperative principles at the week-long educational retreat.
Claassen and Jacome began their adventure meeting campers as they rode across the plains. When the bus arrived in Denver, Colorado, they were treated to a snorkeling experience at the Denver Aquarium where campers swam face-to-face with a school of cownose rays, moray eels, nurse sharks and 400 other exotic underwater species.
The group then arrived at Glen Eden Resort and immediately began forming friendships through various activities. Several demonstrations and presentations introduced students to the cooperative model and the reach of cooperatives throughout their communities. Campers competed to build a model transmission line out of craft supplies, formed their own candy cooperative, held daily membership meetings, toured Trapper Mine and Craig Power Plant, checked out a solar array and experienced a high-voltage safety demonstration. The campers also raised $390 to donate to the NRECA International Foundation.
“It was amazing to see how everyone was willing to step-up and lead,” said Claassen. “Nobody was afraid of leaving their comfort zone and by the end of the trip it was cool to see how close and supportive everyone became.”
“The leadership activities were amazing!” said Jacome. “This whole experience has helped build my confidence and allowed me to meet some awesome people.”
The week-long experience also gave participants an authentic camp feel with river rafting, a volleyball tournament, swimming, a dance and a talent show. In between activities, campers had the opportunity to hangout and meet one another.
“The helpers and fellow campers inspired me to want to become a better leader,” said Jacome. “Every story and lesson I learned I will take with me forever.”
By the camp’s end, students demonstrated the leadership skills they attained by running for an ambassador position at next year’s camp. Claassen along with three other campers will return as ambassadors for the 2018 Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp. As an ambassador, Paige will return to camp as junior counselors and facilitate camp leadership activities, while serving as a role model for incoming campers.
Preparations for next year’s Youth Leadership Camp are well underway. Pioneer Electric will open up applications for the 2018 Youth Tour this fall. Sophomores and juniors who attend Elkhart, Hugoton, Lakin, Moscow, Rolla, Stanton County, Syracuse and Ulysses high schools are encouraged to apply.
“Youth Tour is a great opportunity for our students,” said Pioneer Electric Communications Specialist Drew Waechter. With the ongoing support of our members, we hope to continue this opportunity in the years to come.”