County Fair Summer Series: Camp teaches showmanship skills
Big Piney – Erica David has coached young showmen for years and recently consolidated her mentoring into a five-day session – the Champion Mindset Boot Camp.
Having just completed its fourth year, 60 participants from across the Rocky Mountain West traveled to Big Piney June 18 – 22 for the camp, which focused on showmanship, community service and leadership.
“I grew up showing livestock and learned so much from the experience,” says David, founder and head coach of the camp. “I think that there is no better place to grow up than in a show ring.”
More than a camp
Throughout its existence, Champion Mindset Boot Camp has shown campers how to better handle their show animal to optimize their performance in the show ring and assists them in developing their own techniques.
“We wanted to turn out some of the toughest showmen in the Rocky Mountain West, and we are really starting to see that,” says David proudly.
This year, when the participants were not in the ring, they worked on community service projects, worked one-on-one with youth motivational speaker Travis Brown and attended a classroom session focused on the various aspects of raising show stock.
“We give these kids the complete package. When they walk away from the camp, they are prepared to show this season and for the rest of their careers,” adds David.
This year, the camp included a community mindset. Campers participated in two community service projects that benefited animals and humans.
“We wanted to help the kids understand that it doesn’t take much to make a big difference in some else’s life,” explains David.
For the first project, campers crafted braided fleece dog toys that would be donated to animal rescue groups. They created over 300 toys during the camp.
The second project was assembling emergency care packages for relief organizations.
“Many of the kids went the extra mile and gathered donations before camp from local businesses,” continues David. “We were able to make over 100 emergency care packages that contained travel sized toiletries and non-perishable food.”
David says these will go to local homeless shelters, SAFE projects and, hopefully, to Oklahoma to aid in the tornado relief effort.
In addition to cultivating leadership in the show ring, Champion Mindset Boot Camp encourages students to be leaders in every aspect of their lives.
After meeting Brown, also known as Mr. Mojo, at a conference, David knew that he would be an auspicious addition to the boot camp.
“He is such a dynamic person,” says David of Brown. “I wanted to take his energy to camp to teach the kids beyond the techniques of showing an animal. These life lessons extend beyond the show ring. I wanted to push the curriculum to teach kids about sportsmanship and work ethic.”
“Brown teaches the kids it is okay to be confident and how to develop that confidence,” continues David. “He also teaches kids how to deal with success and to give back to their communities.”
After delivering his keynote address discussing how to be a leader, Brown hosted two workshops, working with participants individually. These sessions focused on teaching showmen how to believe in themselves so they will be confident in any situation.
“As the camp continues to grow and expand, there is a strong possibility that Brown will come out again, but we are also looking at the possibility of bringing in more than one keynote speaker so the kids are exposed to as many leadership opportunities as possible,” adds David.
Plans for growth
“We are really excited for next year, and we have a lot of great things in the works,” says David. “One of the programs we are developing is the Champion Mindset Scholarship.”
Between camps, a showman is highlighted monthly in consideration for the yearly $1,000 scholarship.
This year, Ashley Davis of Big Piney was awarded the scholarship for her excellence in exhibiting leadership both inside the show ring and in life. She is the daughter of Amy Davis.
“We would love to have more than one scholarship, so we could split it into age divisions,” adds David. “This way the younger kids can get excited about showing, and we could still recognize the seniors that are stepping up as leaders.”
There is also talk of expanding the camps into Colorado and Utah to reach more of the upcoming showmen with their cutting edge curriculum.
“We are constantly working on shaking up the curriculum,” says David. “I have spent the past year interviewing national judges to come up with a synthesized showmanship style.”
Kelsey Tramp is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.