At 9:05 a.m. on Wednesday morning, several dozen students were at Eisenhower Elementary School, listening to a teacher.

"You need to be happy for someone else's success; you need to give positive affirmations," said McPherson Middle School teacher Kurt Kinnamon. "...Say 'please' and 'thank you,' people appreciate that."

The children, who will all enter the third through the sixth grade in the fall, were participating in Summer Leadership Camp, a new program facilitated by USD 418 student council members and sponsors.

Kinnamon said the camp was designed to teach teamwork, leadership skills and positive life habits.

Held over the course of three mornings, Summer Leadership Camp started on July 1 with McPherson Chamber of Commerce's Leadership McPherson Class of 2019 leading activities. Campers were able to view vehicles and equipment used by McPherson Police Department's Emergency Response Team and McPherson Fire Department.

McPherson BPU, Pfizer, Viega, and CHS all had representatives present on the third day of Summer Leadership Camp to talk about their businesses, give demonstrations and answer questions from the students.

"We have some neat demonstrations going on and some activities for the kids," said McPherson Middle School teacher Beth Wash.

Grain Craft employees gave directions to students on how to make modeling clay from flour, while a Johns Manville employee showed them the different types of safety equipment used daily at the manufacturing company — and how vital a hard hat could be, as evidenced by a length of metal pipe dropped onto a watermelon.

"We've got different companies that are teaching them different skills through (how) their company works," Wash said. "They're learning a little bit about the company, but they're also talking about teamwork and how things get done."

Student council members also led craft rotations for the campers and led small groups between each station — although by the last day of camp, many of them had turned the responsibility for staying on schedule to one of the younger students.

Student council sponsors for Summer Leadership Camp included McPherson High School's Heath Gerstner, Kurt Kinnamon and Beth Wash from McPherson Middle School and Eisenhower Elementary Schools' Staci Schmid and Kari Moddelmog.

Summer Leadership Camp shirts for the students were sponsored by the city of McPherson, Visit McPherson donated snacks, Walter Optometry donated craft supplies and the McPherson Industrial Development Company awarded scholarships.

For more information about Summer Leadership Camp, email Moddelmog at

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.