Norwood Teens Return from Youth Leadership Camp
by Watch Staff
Aug 07, 2011 | 1400 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NORWOOD – Halli Benasutti of Ridgway and Lindsey Stindt of Norwood are back from a weeklong Colorado Electric Educational Institute Youth Leadership Camp in Clark, Colo.

Sponsored by the San Miguel Power Association, they joined teens from Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma in the week-long leadership camp, learning about cooperative businesses building their teamwork, communication, and relationship skills. SMPA’s Communications Executive Becky Mashburn was a youth counselor at the camp.

The students started the weeklong trip by forming a camp cooperative – the camp canteen. Throughout the week, each student is responsible for working for the cooperative. The canteen sells items such as snacks and drinks. All funds raised through canteen sales are considered to be the cooperative’s margins. At the end of the week, the students must vote on how to distribute those funds. This year, the students voted to donate the money back to the canteen, so next year’s camp had funds to purchase refreshments. 

“There’s no better way to learn how cooperatives work than to actually experience it,” said Mashburn. “We make sure the students take an active role in forming their cooperative. They elect board members, who hire a general manager, who appoints his or her own staff members. And just like SMPA, the students representing the co-op have to report to their fellow peers about what’s going on.”


A number of special presentations are also highlighted at the camp including electricity safety, leadership skills, avian protection, and a simulation to help students understand the legislative process. The group also visited the Craig Station Power Plant and the Trapper Coal Mine.


One of the most unique sessions was given by Kin Quitugua of HawkQuest. HawkQuest is a Colorado nonprofit organization that promotes the stewardship of all living things. Quitugua gave a one-hour program which included a live Bald Eagle, owl, falcon, and hawk. The students learned about the importance of different raptor species and the programs electric cooperatives have in place to protect them. Other highlights included a white-water rafting trip, visit to historic downtown Steamboat Springs, and evening volleyball tournament.


The students ended the week with a celebratory banquet on top of Mt. Werner in Steamboat Springs where they dissolved their cooperative and voted for the 2012 camp ambassadors. Each year, the students are asked to select one boy and one girl from each state to return to camp the following year to serve as ambassadors. Ambassadors are responsible for helping teach leadership skills, lead activities, and make sure all students feel welcome. Halli Benasutti of Ridgway was awarded this honor by her peers.

“San Miguel Power is very proud of Halli. She was selected by her fellow campers to come back and make a difference next year. She is a great example as to why SMPA supports these types of youth programs. We know Halli will succeed as an ambassador next year and will continue to succeed well into the future,” said Mashburn.

For more information on how you can participate in SMPA’s CEEI Youth Leadership Camp, contact Becky Mashburn at (970) 626-5549 ext. 212 or

The CEEI Youth Leadership Camp has been a joint effort of SMPA, the Colorado Rural Electric Association, Tri-State and the Kansas Electric Cooperative Association for nearly three decades. For more information about the CEEI Youth Leadership Camp, please visit

San Miguel Power Association, Inc. is a member owned, locally controlled rural electric cooperative with offices in Nucla and Ridgway, CO. It is the mission of San Miguel Power Association to demonstrate corporate responsibility and community service while providing our members safe, reliable, cost effective and environmentally responsible electrical service. SMPA serves approximately 9,600 members and 13,000 meters and supports local communities with $200,000 annually in property taxes.

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