The 2017 Truman Youth Leadership Academy led twenty-four campers through a curriculum of Respect, Responsibility, Discovery, Excellence, & Service as they convened for the fifth installment of the Academy this past summer. Sixteen young women and eight young men participated in activities designed to foster leadership skills, community service and civic engagement; including several campers that returned to serve as Junior Camp Counselors.
The week began with a tour of the Mizzou campus led by the campus tour team to get the campers familiar with their home for the week. After the tour, the campers were invited to reflect on the Academy’s purpose. The campers were challenged to think about their core values to build a foundation that would inform the Academy’s discussions throughout the week. These values were immediately put to the test with a trip to Venture Out where the campers had to quickly learn how to work together as a team and lead each other through a difficult high ropes course.
Day two began with the Marshmallow Challenge where the campers were, again, challenged to work together as a team to raise their marshmallows as high as they could using only spaghetti, tape, and string – in only 30 minutes. This activity led the way into a discussion about respect and how necessary this value was to completing the challenge. The morning continued with campers having the chance to design their own coats of arms to reflect on the kinds of things that would inform their own personal style of leadership.
The morning concluded with a visit from Truman School of Public Affairs alumna Brianna Lennon who led the campers through the process of writing a stump speech. As a candidate for local public office, Brianna was able to offer the campers insight into the kinds of things to expect on the campaign trail.
Day two wrapped up with a lesson about famous Missourians facilitated by Maggie Mayan from the State Historical Society of Missouri, followed by a visit to the SHSMO Art Gallery to view works by the likes of famous Missouri artists Thomas Hart Benton and George Caleb Bingham. The campers were treated to a private tour of the Gallery from Curator, Joan Stack, and caught a glimpse into the state’s long and colorful history to offer them some perspective on what it means to be a Missourian in 2017.
On day three, the campers welcomed Carolyn Sullivan and Jessica Macy of New Chapter Coaching to the Academy to learn about the City of Columbia’s Strategic Plan. The campers were challenged to think about the city’s priorities and the kinds of decisions that city officials have to make to ensure a happy, healthy and safe community. Once the campers had a firm grasp on the strategic priorities identified in the Strategic Plan, they were challenged to work together to craft their own strategic initiatives to help the city meet its goals.
After a busy Wednesday morning, the campers welcomed Kim Chamberlin and Joanne Finley from the White House Decision Center at the Harry S Truman Presidential Library & Museum. The campers were led through an examination of the difficult decisions faced by the Truman administration leading up to, and during the Korean War. Each camper was assigned a role in the administration; from Secretary of State and Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all the way to President Truman himself. Like any presidential administration, the campers had to put their minds together and come to a consensus regarding the best course of action.
On day four of the Academy the campers had the opportunity to leave the Mizzou campus and head out into the community. The day began with a trip to the Columbia Sanitary Landfill & Compost Facility for a tour of the recycling facilities, as well as the landfill and composting site. The campers got to learn about how the City of Columbia is striving to meet its sustainability goals by capturing methane gas generated by the landfill to generate electricity, and by updating its recycling infrastructure to allow for 1-7 plastics to be recycled.
After their morning visit, the campers were off to Columbia City Hall for a host of activities. Barbara Buffaloe, the Sustainability Manager for the City of Columbia, welcomed the campers and led them through a tour of the building; highlighting the use of sustainable building materials and discussing other efforts the city has undertaken to meet its sustainability goals. After their tour, the campers met City Manager, Mike Matthes, and presented their strategic initiatives before undertaking a mock City Council Activity. Chris Clubine and Kacy Hall led the campers through a unique scenario in which a recently deceased city resident bequeathed a tract of land to the Columbia. The campers elected a Mayor and six Council Members to lead the session. The rest of the campers chose to represent various community interest groups to make the case for the land to be used for a homeless shelter, an animal shelter, or to be preserved as green space.
Capping off the week long Academy, staff and students traveled to Jefferson City for a guided tour of the Capitol building from Chief Clerk of the House Adam Crumbliss, which houses the Executive and Legislative branches of Missouri government. The students learned about the state legislative process, observed the General Assembly floor and even climbed to the top of the Capitol dome. Following the Capitol tour, the Academy visited the State Supreme Court and Law Library, meeting and speaking with Missouri Supreme Court Judge, Laura Denvir Stith. The students learned about the judicial system in Missouri as well as the hiring process for judges in the state. She welcomed the students warmly, stressed the need for more women in leadership roles, and answered questions.
The Academy closed its fifth year with the customary Leadership Taps, a quiet ceremony where staff read statements and “tapped” campers on the shoulder who demonstrated the stated leadership characteristics.