Leaders sprout at Farmers Union camp

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Farm Forum

Kadin LaBrie, the 13-year-old son of a Frankfort farmer, said on July 29 he was sad to be nearing the end of his last district camp, a summer event put on by the South Dakota Farmers Union that he has attended for the past few years.

Next year, he may take the next step to state camp in the Black Hills. That camp is aimed at teens ages 13-18.

“These kids come year after year, and the leadership seed is planted in them and grows each year they return,” said Heather Kuecker, an education director for the group’s camp.

In a class session July 29, campers wrote letters and drew pictures to be delivered to farmers living close to where each camper lives.

“Thank you so much for the time you put into each and every day to get us some food on our plates,” LaBrie wrote. “I’m very proud that you work to help us out!”

Learning and bonding

At the Farmers Union’s District III and VII summer camp, 102 children, ages 6 to 13, camped out at Richmond Lake July 27-29.

The two districts represented at the camps include 23 counties. Barb Vetter, another education director at the camp, reported a good mix of campers from different areas.

Many of the activities touched on all sides of the Farmers Union triangle symbol: Education is the foundation, with cooperation and legislation representing the sides.

Despite not exactly wanting to be at the camp his first year, Dayton Trujillo, 18, of DeSmet, was elected this year to the National Youth Advisory Council. Nearing his start as a first-year student at South Dakota State University, Trujillo was a camp counselor at the Richmond Lake camp.

Initially he was shy, both Vetter and Kuecker said, but he has made countless friends as the years passed by.

“They get to come here and break out of their shell,” said Kuecker, adding that many past and current campers and counselors have told her that they have had a hard time fitting in at school. To them, camp is a second home.

From all of his years being involved with the Farmers Union’s camps, Trujillo said he has found a familiar, friend-turned-family face on all sides of the state.

“I can travel to nearly any town in South Dakota and have someone to hang out with or visit,” Trujillo said.