Camps Emphasize Cooperating for a Brighter Tomorrow
As S.D. Farmers Union (SDFU) enters its 84th camping season its focus remains the same. Priority is placed on shaping the leaders of tomorrow, fostering engagement in rural communities and introducing youth to the many opportunities in agriculture.
"Camp is a place where kids can come to learn and grow as leaders in an engaging positive atmosphere," said Rachel Haigh-Blume, S.D. Farmers Union Education Director. "The lessons they learn today will stick with them for years to come as they take on leadership roles in their communities and future careers."
SDFU hosts nearly 50 camps across the state each year for children ages 5 to 18. These camps work to fulfill a vital purpose for the future of rural communities by educating children on agriculture careers that often help them return home to their rural communities.
"Promoting the concept of careers in agriculture that have the potential to bring youth back home is important for the future of rural communities and maintaining our way of life," said Haigh-Blume. "We talk a lot about those who have moved for their careers but we also need to promote the success stories of hometown returners and what they are doing to give back to their rural communities."
This year's camp theme is "Cooperating for a Brighter Tomorrow." Activities highlight cooperative education, careers, leadership and where food comes from. Teaching campers the importance of leadership and how they can brighten their tomorrow has always been a part of the camp experience.
"Fun, food, friends and happy days is what camp is all about," said Haigh-Blume. "It's what keeps our camping family returning year after year."
Understanding farm safety is, as always, a priority at camp. Along with the usual discussion and focus of farm safety at camp, SDFU's new Farm Safety Trailer is scheduled to appear at several county camps, where campers will be given innovative demonstrations on topics such as grain safety, power take-off (PTO) safety, electrical safety, ATV use and more.
"Farm safety is a very important aspect of agriculture," said Haigh-Blume. "We want our campers to leave camp having a better grasp on how to keep themselves and others safe. I'm excited to see how the Farm Safety Trailer engages campers."
SDFU camps are unique in that senior campers have a hand in creating the camp structure and shaping the experience for fellow campers. Taylin Montague a senior at New Underwood High School is one of two campers on the Senior Advisory Council working to create the most memorable camp experience possible.
"Building a great camp is important because it gives campers the opportunity to learn and grow into leaders all while having fun," said Montague. "For many kids Farmers Union becomes a second family and it is important that camp is and can stay that way for these kids."
Junior Advisory Council member Haley Keizer, a senior at Corsica-Stickney High School, is excited to have a hand in planning a new and impactful aspect of state camp.
"A focus at State Leadership Camp this year will be teaching campers the importance of mental health and positive coping skills, as well as, being able to spot emotional struggle in your peers," said Keizer. "This subject isn't talked about often enough. Teaching young campers these skills makes going through tough situations much easier for them and helps them spot emotional struggle in someone else. They could potentially save someone's life."
The idea of a brighter tomorrow has a positive impact.
"Brighter tomorrows are a theme we can all relate to," said Haigh-Blume. "With a random act of kindness, a game, a smile and a new friend tomorrow is bright for all of us. Sometimes we just need a day to go unplugged and get back to the basics. Camp is a safe place to be yourself and be cherished for who you are. When we are in a safe place we all feel brighter about tomorrow."
Each year South Dakota Farmers Union hosts nearly 50 camps across the state each year for children ages 5 to 18. As S.D. Farmers Union enters its 84th camping season its focus remains the same. Priority is placed on shaping the leaders of tomorrow, fostering engagement in rural communities and introducing youth to the many opportunities in agriculture.