Congratulation to TLC for 50 years! Of course, that is an indicator of my age as well! I had the opportunity to be a State FFA Officer in 1971, the first year of holding “Leadership Camp” at TLC. It truly was a camping experience.
While the tents provided some cover, it was unbelievably cold at night. Trying to get a good night’s sleep, several of the state officers opted to sleep in our cars or the back of a pickup with a camper shell that one of the officers borrowed from his folks. And of course, then there was the rain…
With only one marginal shower, most campers did not shower while at Leadership Camp. When the last day came, it was time to go home! We had ten state officers back then, so we took turns at the various sessions. Only six officers at a time were present for a session of Leadership Camp. There were only the six original chapter officers with no parliamentarian, chaplain, historian, etc.
The highlight everyday was when the white panel truck came rumbling in from Helen’s of Hampton. That meant it was time for chow! There was no kitchen, so all the food was catered in from the local restaurant. Helen’s was also a late night gathering spot for the advisors after the campers went to bed.
Taking my students to Leadership Camp as a young teacher was the highlight of the summer. It was the custom that the “herd” (campers were broken into groups representing different breeds of cattle) that yelled the loudest was the first to go through the food line. The trips home were very quiet due to strained voices from all the yelling.
After teaching six years, I had the opportunity to serve as the FFA Executive Director. For seventeen years, I spent most of my summer in Aurora at COLT and Young Member (PEAK) Conferences. Those summers were filled with special memories with the state officer teams. Experiencing the growth of the Center with new buildings and facilities created great opportunities for expansion of the leadership opportunities. The Aurora community was so welcoming to the FFA every summer. I could walk into most of the stores and have someone greet me with “Hi Rich, good to have the FFA back in town!”
One of the most unique aspects of COLT was the comradery that was developed between the members from across the state. As I met with state officer candidates each year, it was amazing how well they knew each other from the time spent at COLT and PEAK. It was also a special time for advisors. From congregating in Wedeking to late night water volleyball in the pool, TLC provided the atmosphere to build the professional bonds as Ag Teachers across the state.
I’m sure that all of us with our roots in Agriculture Education/FFA have some great memories of our time at TLC. What’s most impressive is how TLC impacted the lives of young Nebraskans through the leadership programming provided. Congratulations and best wishes for 50 more years!
Nebraska FFA Vice President 1971-72, Howells Agriculture Education Instructor 1975-81, Nebraska FFA Executive Director 1982-2000, Nebraska Agriculture Education Director 2000-2001, Nebraska State Director, Career Education 2001-2018