Tricounty News

Kimball BLT Leos push their limits

By Kris O'Brien, Community Education Director

Eighty Leos from all over the State, 25 of them from Kimball, attended in the 2010 5M Leo Leadership Conference, held Oct. 21-23, at Camp Friendship in Annandale. The theme "Voices of Tomorrow" rang true throughout the entire conference. Over the past nine months, Kimball students, Aly Hurrle, Shelby Seth, Tara Matthiesen, Jon Bisila, and three students from Sartell and Spring Lake Park, along with Kris O'Brien, planned a conference that empowered youth as leaders, addressed issues important to youth and promoted youth making changes in their communities. Leos were placed in leadership roles as peer mentors, presenters, and speakers and activities were geared to inspire new leaders, ignite enthusiasm for service, and imagine possibilities.

At the beginning of camp, large group games were played to get Leos acquainted. Then Leos were divided into six teams, led by peer mentors whose role was to facilitate small group games, ice breakers, and team challenges that helped unify their teams, built trust, and empowered youth to push themselves beyond their limits. The planning team carefully planned seminars that were youth led and kept issues important to youth in the forefront. Sessions included the following topics: Putting Fun in Your Meetings, Grants, Fundraisers, and other Funding Resources, Leo Club 101 Panel Discussions, and Sweat Monkey, an internet based volunteer tracking system. Service project ideas, such as book drives, clean-up initiatives, and environmental projects, were also shared. Duane Finger of the Kimball Lions and Jean Euteneuer with her service dog Lexi gave a presentation on Can Do Canines, a hearing and service dog program endorsed by Lions International. During Friday's lunch, Leos participated in an experience of being blind. Each person was given a blind fold and was told to eat their meal as if they were blind. District Governor Randi Fravert of 5M-1 shared a presentation on Leader Dog and provided project ideas that Leos could share with their clubs.

The highlight of the conference was the Team Quest Adventure Program, a service of Friendship Ventures. High-and low-element challenge courses, comprised of unique obstacles made from lumber, rope and cable, are the centerpieces of Team Quest programs. Negotiating these obstacles builds self-confidence and team spirit. Innovative group games teach creative problem solving and conflict resolution. These dynamic and effective workshop-style programs took the Leos on an incredible journey of self-discovery, transforming the way they work together and respond to risk.

The final component of the conference was the Community Service Opportunities. Leos who attended the conference were given the opportunity to perform community service at a local organization or community. The planning committee decided to support the Lions Global Service Action Campaign Projects Ð Sharing the Vision, by holding an eye glasses and fundraising competition called "Vision Quest". Each team was assigned a community or service area to collect eye glasses and donations, as well as a mission to educate community members of the Lions sight saving work they do throughout the world. The teams had two hours to complete their mission. Five teams went door to door, while one team went to a local grocery store to bag and carry groceries. After two hours, the Leos collected $475 for the Lions Eye Bank, 221 eye glasses and 25 cell phones.

The Leo Clubs in Minnesota have a strong tradition and support system in 5M District. With 27 Leo Clubs throughout MD5M, youth as leaders is becoming a priority. The MD5M Lions investment in young people as leaders in this high-profile initiative reflects its sincere commitment to tapping the passion and expertise of our younger generation.

This program was made possible by generous donations from the Kimball and Fairhaven Lions Clubs, 5M-8 Lions Foundation, Sartell, Princeton, and Sauk Rapids Riverside Lions Clubs. A special thank you to Gene Gohmann, his work in planning the Thursday meals was much appreciated.