By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Rising middle-school students discussed values, teamwork and service on Wednesday afternoon.
Fifty-three sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders are attending the third annual District 6 Leadership Camp, which began Wednesday and concludes today at HealthWorks!
“This camp is fun, and we get to learn about being a leader and that you can change the world by a simple action,” said camper Ben Ueltschey, 11, a rising sixth-grader at Tupelo Christian Preparatory School.
The camp was created by state Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo. More than 10 speakers addressed the campers around five themes: look up, stand up, lift up, pick up and get back up.
The participants also heard from representatives of five different charities: the CREATE Tornado Relief Fund, Sanctuary Hospice House, Veteran’s Memorial Park, Salvation Army and Eight Days of Hope. Today they will vote on which one will receive a donation from contributions they made.
“We have a great opportunity to raise up new leaders,” Collins said.
Among Wednesday’s presentations was a message about bullying by Sara Berry of Integrity Time and Raigan Miskelly of First United Methodist Church in Columbus.
“Bullying exists, and as leaders, we have a responsibility to realize every person is of sacred worth,” said Miskelly, the church’s pastor. “The way to do that is we stand up, speak up and lift others up.”
Campers also toured Itawamba Community College’s Workforce Mobile Unit and heard from Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson, among others. State Auditor Stacey Pickering will address them today.
Josh Berry, 12, said he attended the camp to learn to be more of a leader.
“I like it because it teaches you a lesson,” said the rising sixth-grader at TCPS. “It teaches you bullying is wrong and don’t do it.”
Paris O’Neal, 12, a rising seventh-grader at Tupelo Middle School, learned about the importance of being a leader, not bullying and helping people up when they are down.
“I think it is inspirational, and it is a great gift to kids,” she said of the camp.