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Work program at CCC promotes leadership and team building

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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Without hesitation, Sierra Fadness, went through the numerous steps of gardening at Camp Rabideau's garden. Keeping, maintaining and learning about the gardens is just one of the many projects a group of high school students work on as part of the summer work program at Camp Rabideau.

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The program, which is funded through the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, takes youth, ages 14-18, from Blackduck, Bemidji and Cass Lake and provides them with an educational work environment.

"This is a great learning experience," said Manley McDermot, one of the students in the program.

"You get a lot of hands on skills," said Fadness.

The group discussed how they not only work independently on projects, but they work as a team as well.

"We have a lot of mini teams that we mix and match on different days," McDermotc said. "Some people work in the gardens, some people paint, some people check the temperature on the solar panels."

"We try to teach leadership, respect and team building out here," said John Parmeter, who supervises the group.

Parmeter has been working with youth crews since 1972 and speaks highly of the group he has.

"I have some phenominal groups who have done things that people didn't think teenagers could do," he said. "This group is one of them. They're working on building more solar panels like the one the students at Blackduck High School did and already they've found ways to make a panel even more efficient."

Parmeter aknowledged the fact that he doesn't want to step into the roll of being a tough boss for his crew.

"I do not sit back and tell them what to do," he said. "We discuss the stuff they do and I help them do it."

"Working for John is great," Denise Couch said. "When we do something, when we figure something out, he gets so excited and that motivates us even more."

"He's always teaching us something," McDermot said.

Parmeter explained that he is always looking for what he calls a "teachable moment."

"If someone comes to ask me a question and I think it's worthy, I'll stop everyone and have them come learn," he said. "The more they know, the better off they are."

"We know that if we have a problem, we can get together as a group," Fadness said. "John is hardly ever back in the garden with us, but he trusts us and he knows if there is something we can't work out together, we'll go get him."

"I want these kids to be able to plan, work and solve their own problems," Parmeter said.

As a whole, the group agreed that this program has become more than a job to them -- it is something they take pride in.

"I actually take pride in the garden because it is something we all came together to do in the beginning," Fadnesssaid. "I'm proud to say they trust me to take care of it. It's really cool."

Fadness said that she enjoys showing the public what she has learned and what she continues to learn not only with the gardens but with all the work she does. Couch agrees.

"I think we all like to show off a little bit, especiallly when the tours come through," she laughed. "Some of them ask a lot of questions about what we do and we're happy to show them."

"We have a lot of different projects going on at the same time," Parmeter said. "They all get done on time and with no mistakes. This group is solid and they're hard workers."

Later this summer, the group is preparing to build the camp a greenhouse using the solar panels they're currently building.

"I've never been a part of anything like this," Couch said. "This experience will help me when I'm done with high school."

"Working in an environment like this is one of the best things I've ever done," Fadness said. "Being able to come in to this type of work setting with John and everyone here is just so great. I'll definitely be able to apply what I learned here to my life."

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