Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp celebrates 35 years, looks back on camp legacyWritten by Saige Albert
“Students focused on their legacy throughout the week,” explained first-time Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp counselor and 2011-2012 National FFA Association Southern Region Vice President Cain Thurmond. “So many people out there don’t know what kind of things they want to leave behind and don’t know the type of legacy they are living right now.”
Nearly 150 campers reflected on their legacy during two four-day sessions of camp, and they also reflected on past generations of camp.
In 1978, Al Snyder, Wyoming Association President from 1977-1978, founded Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp on the belief that leadership training should be available for all FFA members.
“This is a leadership camp for vocational agriculture students to build leadership skills that they can take back to their chapter and community,” explains Burt Andreen, one of three camp directors. “It is a service-oriented camp that focuses on helping students help others.”
The first camp hosted 16 members and was held on Tensleep Mountain. Since then, camp has relocated twice, stopping at its current location at the Fremont County Youth Camp south of Lander.
To commemorate their anniversary, the Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp welcomed camp founder and hypnotist Al Snyder back for the event and invited National FFA Officer Cain Thurmond as a counselor.
“We filled the schedule this year,” comments Andreen. “We had a full agenda of activities that were new.”
Perspectives from camp
In his first year attending Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp, Thurmond said, “I didn’t quite know what to expect, and it was much different and much more than anything I could have expected. It was a very non-typical camp.”
Thurmond complimented the home-cooked meals and close-knit nature of the group, saying, “There were about 90 students, and by the end of camp, we all knew each other by name.”
“As I left camp, I know I left with a different sense of purpose,” commented Thurmond. “As the theme suggests, our legacy lives, and all of us are leaving with a better sense of what we want our legacy to be.”
Jenna Gardner of Cheyenne was a first time camper and was elected to serve as the Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp president.
“I’ve been in FFA for two years, but this is my first time at camp,” said Gardner. “It has been amazing. I’ve met so many new people, made new friends, and I’ve learned so much about myself.”
Gardner continued, saying, “It’s been really eye-opening. I encourage everyone to come to camp if you can. It has literally been one of the best experiences of my life.”
Fellow camp officers Quade Palm and Hyrum Ruby echoed her praises of camp.
Palm, a second-year camper from the Bow River FFA Chapter in Hanna and camp vice president, said, “Camp is a blast. The opportunities are awesome, and the people you meet are wonderful.”
“My favorite part of camp is the workshops that we do. I really like the skills we learn,” added Buffalo FFA member and camp secretary Hyrum Ruby. “It works to improve my public speaking, and we do interview workshops to help prepare for jobs.”
Ruby added, “By the end, we are all family. I’ll definitely come back to camp next year.”
A core group
An integral part of camp, mentioned by many members as their favorite part, are the core group workshops.
“Core groups consisted of eight campers and two or three counselors, and conversations go in-depth,” explained Thurmond. “We didn’t focus on leadership, and we didn’t focus on surface level things, instead we got to the core of issues, and the core of our lives. We explained the things we struggled with and offered advice to one another.”
Palm added, “My favorite part of camp is core groups because you go deeper than surface level about all the individuals. Seeing other people that have a similar backgrounds and learning about them is awesome.”
With 35 years in the books, Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp plans to continue their legacy for many years, teaching leadership skills and influencing the lives FFA members from across Wyoming.