Youth Leadership Weekend Proves to be a Success!

Four County EMC held its 14th annual Youth Leadership Weekend at Camp Kirkwood in Watha on March 11-13. Thirteen area high school juniors attended this year.

On Friday afternoon, the students were taught the cooperative business model as well as what makes Four County different from other electricity providers. After that, they participated in an introductory session and initiation games.

On Saturday, the students experienced a full day of leadership training that involved many various team-building exercises as well as individual exercises. The students learned and applied several lifelong skills including teamwork, communication, trust, leadership, decision making, problem-solving, and self-esteem. On Saturday night, the students were motivated by Coach Bob Barlett of Surf City as he shared the message of how leadership evolves as you grow in life and understanding that seeing leadership through different lenses is okay. Coach Barlett also spoke about being proud of the person you are right now in life and to practice who you want to become.

On Sunday, Tawana Williams, “The Hope Coach,” motivated the group by delivering her message of hope to the group by discussing the obstacles that she has overcome in her life as she was born without arms and impaired use of her legs. She also performed demonstrations of how she utilizes her feet and toes to perform daily tasks such as putting on socks, tying shoes, and even how she fed and changed her daughter’s diaper when she was a baby. Everyone in attendance felt motivated to conquer whatever hurdles that may be in front of them after hearing her phenomenal message.

Before leaving on Sunday, the students reflected back on the weekend and shared what they learned. Isidora Martinez De Leon from West Bladen said, “ I enjoyed how the activities allowed me to push myself. I also liked how you didn’t know any of the other students when you first arrived, and by the end of the weekend, you felt connected to everyone here. I learned that effective communication is important and that I can trust and rely on people that want to achieve the same goal.”

MaKayla Killens, Youth Leadership Weekend Coordinator, explains: “I enjoyed watching the students bond instantly as I reflect on the Youth Leadership program. Every student supported one another whether a task was big or small. This program is about teaching young people how to become better leaders. The skills learned here are tangible and intangible resources that these students can take back to their communities. YMCA Camp Kirkwood did a fantastic job hosting us and interacting with the students. The bond that these students have made is unmatched. The hope is that they will remember this experience and carry these new goals and practices with them for the rest of their lives.”

At the end of each Youth Leadership Weekend, students vote on which male and female students they considered to be the most outstanding leaders of the weekend. This year’s winners were Timothy “Rylee” Mintz from Pender High School and Makayla Robertson from Pender Early College. Four County offered to sponsor both of them to represent Four County EMC at the annual Youth Tour in Washington, DC this June.

Futhermore, the male and female runner-ups in the leadership voting will be sponsored to represent Four County at the Cooperative Leadership Camp that will be held at White Lake in June. Those winners are Grace Deitz from Topsail High School and Joshua Fish from James Kenan High School.

In addition to learning leadership skills and overcoming challenges, the students will also have an opportunity to write an essay about the weekend experience for a chance to win one of two $1,000 college scholarships. The winners will be announced in late May and will receive the scholarships once enrolled in college.

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