The Truman Youth Leadership Academy delivered a remarkable calendar of events last week to students enrolled in the annual Academy. Campers tested their courage and teamwork on the high ropes course at Venture Out to start the week. Instructors at Venture Out prepped the students on use of the gear and challenges of the course and were on hand to lend assistance as each team navigated the course in harness equipment. Students learned to guide teammates through the tough parts of the course and passed increasingly difficult levels of physical and mental challenge as they found their way to the zip line dismount. They discovered their own capacity for facing fear and developed immediate bonds with new friends. On Tuesday, campers developed their coats of arms to examine themes of respect. In the afternoon, they learned about stump speeches and how to run for office. They also visited the State Historical society to learn about famous Missourians.
On Wednesday, students focused on responsibility and offered amendments to the City of Columbia’s Strategic Plan for Social Equity, which were to be presented for consideration at the mock city council meeting. Carolyn Sullivan, consultant for the City of Columbia’s Strategic Plan, presented the lecture and organized the activity. Students examined different aspects of social equity and developed solutions for problems like homelessness, healthcare, preserving green space, options for controlling stray animal populations, community gardening and crime reduction. In the afternoon, educators from the White House Decision Center at the Truman Library in Independence presented a rigorous briefing on the Korean Conflict. Students assumed key positions of President Truman’s cabinet to review intelligence and determine the best course of action in ending the conflict. A core component of the Academy, over the past several years, campers have solved the Berlin Blockade, Hiroshima and the Korean Conflict, bringing profound appreciation for the job of Commander-in-chief.
Thursday brought the Spaghetti-Marshmallow Challenge, where competing teams had to engineer the tallest structure possible with 20 sticks of spaghetti, a marshmallow, a piece of tape and a string. A mid-morning field trip to tour the recycling center helped students understand the importance and impact of sustainability. After lunch, students toured City Hall and focused on their call to service, holding mock elections for Mayor and City Council. Student activists presented their Social Equity Plans to the council, guided by Mike Matthes, Columbia’s City Manager, for consideration and voting.
Friday shifted the emphasis to excellence as students traveled to Jefferson City to tour the Capitol and meet with Adam Crumbliss and Representative David Wood, who explained the process of how a bill becomes a law. House staffers guided the students through a mock legislative session, addressing and voting on three different measures, including expanding the no-texting-while-driving law to adults over 21, repeal of the death penalty and HB 564, a bill meant to provide password protection for students and job seekers. After lunch, students had the honor of meeting with Hon. Laura Denbir Stith, Missouri Supreme Court Justice, who talked to the campers about Missouri’s court system and the types of cases they hear. Campers then toured the law library. The camp concluded with the traditional TAP ceremony, recognizing students for their achievements. Special kudos went to Academy Alums Logan Huckstep, Britney Hentges and Margo Haynes who returned as high-schoolers to serve as Junior Counselors, modeling their leadership styles for younger campers.