This summer, the Gray Center in Canton served as home away from home for Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s Safety Camp attendees. The scorching Mississippi heat could have deterred the campers from coming, but they did not seem to mind. Their enthusiasm could not be contained as they were eager to learn and ready for adventure.

“Safety Camp is a weeklong event we hold each year for the students of Mississippi to learn about safety in many forms,” Benton Moseley, MFBF Safety Specialist, says. “Throughout the week, we cover some really interesting topics taught by MFBF Safety Specialists and outside professionals.”

To ensure the students are receiving a well-rounded safety lesson, outside professionals are brought in to teach the students about fun, new topics. The lessons revolve around hands-on experiences to help the students engage and better understand the importance of safety.

“Air evac flies in, a reptile guy comes, the power company puts on a great arts and sparks demonstration, and they teach railroad safety, gun safety, and several other programs,” Moseley says. “Then we, as MFBF safety specialists, teach tractor safety, ATV safety, shop safety, and CPR procedures.”

The students who attend Safety Camp come for many different reasons. This year, Katelyn Williamson, a student from Monroe County, came for a personal reason.

“My cousin died in a car accident,” Williamson says. “My grandmother made me come to learn how to be a cautious driver because I will be getting my license soon.”

Safety Camp benefits students like Williamson who will soon start driving by teaching students how quickly motor vehicle accidents occur when drivers are impaired or distracted.

“I tried on the vision impaired goggles during the impaired driving lesson, and it was pretty difficult to walk and not run in to somebody,” Rylea Irby, a student from Rankin County, says. “I also noticed you lose all control of your muscle movements and it was a really uncomfortable feeling.”

Safety Camp serves as an important education tool for students who live on a farm because tractor and equipment safety lessons are taught. Demonstrations are shown to help students understand how quickly accidents occur when handling farm equipment, and how devastating the result of carelessness can be to them and those around them.

“I came to Safety Camp this year mainly to help me understand the right safety procedures to do in certain situations,” Charlie Tarlton, a student from Winston County, says. “In tractor safety, you’ve got to know that even though a PTO shaft is running you should be always be careful. It can come out flying and hit you in the leg if you’re not paying attention. It’s important to realize anything can happen in just a split second.”

Students who attend Safety Camp are guaranteed a fun and informative week. The exciting stories of past attendees recruited many of the first-time campers this year.

“I’ve actually never been to a camp before, but my dad is a Farm Bureau member and he told me that it would be something fun for me to do this summer,” Irby says. “Then, one of my friends told me about this camp, and she said it is always fun.”

MFBF staff works hard to incorporate fun elements into the lessons taught at Safety Camp. The interactive elements help students better focus on the information being taught.

“My favorite part of Safety Camp this year was when Mr. Jimmy Nichols came and told us about narcotics. He made it serious and told us that there are really serious consequences out there but at the same time he made it interesting to learn about,” Tarlton says. “He told us some funny stories, so I really enjoyed it.”

Students come to Safety Camp from all around the state. Because of this, they are given the opportunity to make new friends.

“I honestly wasn’t really looking forward to coming to Safety Camp this year because I knew I wasn’t going to know anyone,” Williamson says. “But it has been really fun because I’ve met so many nice people. Everyone is social and the instructors are so nice.”

The students leave Safety Camp bursting with new knowledge and fun experiences to share with their friends and family.

“I have learned a lot at Safety Camp,” Danny Hayes, a student from DeSoto County, says. “I can’t wait to tell my friends about what I’ve learned so they will know what to do if something bad ever happens to them.”

MFBF hopes the lessons learned and the friendships made at Safety Camp are not soon forgotten. The message of safety never gets old, especially since it could save someone’s life.

“We hope the students will spread the word to their friends, parents, and grandparents at home to remind everyone to think rationally and to be safe,” Moseley says. “We just want everyone to be more careful.”