More than 500 middle school, junior high and high school students and 85 Missouri Association of Student Councils (MASC) staff members have converged on William Woods University this week for Summer Leadership Institute.
This year’s theme, “Dance to the Leadership Beat,” will involve dance-related activities to help teach the concept of leadership. Corey Baker, a former junior counselor and camp staff member from Washington, Mo., set the tone for the week when he spoke to the participants Sunday evening.
Terri Johnson, executive director of MASC and camp director, said that students would build leadership skills through positive team building activities throughout the week and put those skills to practice through two charity events: a children’s carnival and duck race for Special Olympics.
The children’s carnival is 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13. It is a free event, open to all children in the Fulton community, especially those in pre-school through sixth grade. Twenty-six booths will be set up for carnival games, a moonwalk, drinks, popcorn and cotton candy—all free to anyone in attendance.
The “Adopt a Duck for a Buck” duck race will be held the following day, Wednesday, June 16, at 4:30 p.m. Melody Prawitz, coordinator for the northwest district of Special Olympics, will work alongside Johnson to organize the event.
In addition, a Special Olympics athlete, who has trained as a Global Messenger, will address the group about the importance of volunteers and the role Special Olympics plays in her life.v
Those wishing to participate may buy, or “adopt,” a rubber duck for $1. All proceeds go toward Special Olympics. Ducks will be “raced” across the university’s Senior Lake, and prizes will be given to winners. There are approximately 70 different prizes, ranging from CD’s and t-shirts to TVs and Walkmans.
Last year, MASC raised more than $21,000 for Special Olympics and participated in more than 8,000 hours of volunteer service statewide. Johnson believes that participation in the Special Olympics charity is the embodiment of what it means to be a true leader.
“True Leadership is about service to other people. It’s not about being in the limelight; it’s about service to your fellow man…which is why we chose Special Olympics, because that is about helping an under-serviced population that needs to feel good about themselves all the time.”
William Woods University has hosted MASC for more than 30 years. Participants are selected following criteria established by each school. According to Johnson, the number of students per school varies from one to 20. Altogether, approximately 150 schools across the state are represented in this year’s camp.
Johnson is adamant that the purpose of the camp is also the most beneficial factor of MASC.
“Student Council in schools is to help all students feel accepted and a part of something, which is what we try to teach at camp. We try very hard to help leaders understand that acceptance of everyone is important. Student Council and our activities are not just for the popular and the ‘elite,’ but for everyone.”