The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation recently hosted its 50th annual Youth Safety Camp at Camp Tanglewood in Newton County. More than 35 students in 7th-12th grades attended the four-day camp.

“Safety Camp is a weeklong event we hold each year for the students of Mississippi to learn about safety in many forms,” MFBF Safety Specialist Benton Moseley said. “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, like Madison County Sheriff Department Lieutenant Mark Sandridge, are brought in to teach various, important topics.

The lessons revolve around hands-on experiences to help the students engage and better understand the importance of safety. Sandridge discussed situational awareness and school violence with the students, focusing on ways they can protect themselves.

“What makes Americans so vulnerable is the time of prosperity we live in. We’ve never had war on our own soil. We’ve never experienced some of the fear many others have and that I described in the classroom setting,” Sandridge said. “A teenager who has lived in an affluent household has never really seen anything bad happen. A lot of times, they forget the dangers out there. If they’ll learn to integrate being vigilant, they can avoid many bad situations.”

The students who attend Safety Camp come for many different reasons. Sixth year attendee and Senior Camp Counselor Jacey Eldridge of Carroll County keeps coming back because every year she learns something new to use in her everyday life.

“I think as a young person, it’s super important to learn the skills they teach us here,” Eldridge said. “The world is crazy, and you just never know what you’re going to encounter. I think the simple facts that we learn here, we can use in our daily lives to protect us from lots of things.”

Camp attendee Zoe Newsom said she enjoys the week-long camp so much, she always tries to recruit more students to come each year.

“This camp is not just about farm safety,” Newsom said. “There’s so many more things you learn. A lot of people think you can learn everything in one year and you don’t need to come back, but I’ve been three years so far and each year I learn something new.”

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

“I believe one of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s biggest achievements is Safety Camp,” Moseley said. “We get a group of kids together from all over the state to teach them real-life skills  they can use. What could be better than that?”

Royce Windham Tractor sponsored the use of a tractor for several safety demonstrations conducted at this year’s Youth Safety Camp. The following speakers presented programs during the four-day event.

  • Terry Vandeventer, Herpetologist – Snake Awareness
  • Lieutenant Mark Sandridge, Madison County Sheriff Department – Situation Awareness and School Violence
  • Gerald Duckworth, Canadian National Railroad – Operation Life Saver
  • Donnie Collins, Mississippi Fire Academy – Fire Safety
  • Thomas Brewer, Mississippi State University Extension Service – Look A Like Poison
  • Keith McMillian, Jackson State University – Impaired Driving
  • Mississippi Department of Transportation – Rover the Roll Over Demo
  • Southern Pine Electric – Electrical Safety
  • David Steele, Solid Steele Sounds Entertainment – Camp Dance DJ