Local resident Kahrie Stegman learned a lot about leadership at the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership camp.

In a constantly changing world where technology is evolving at a rapid rate, leadership skills are more important than ever to help people deal with the constant flow of decisions that have to be made.

For Pratt high school student Kahrie Stegman, her leadership skills were challenged and improved at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference May 31-June 3 at Kansas State University where she attended as an ambassador.

Stegman, who will be a junior at PHS in the fall, was one of 220 students that attended the conference. Stegman’s friend Alesha Bergner was a staff member at the conference and urged Stegman to attend.

The HOBY conference is about leadership in society. It opens the students eyes to everything going on in the world. It’s a chance for students to get beyond the walls of their school and expand their knowledge.

“We don’t see what’s going on in the world,” Stegman said.

The sessions at HOBY help students develop leadership skills that will allow them to be leaders of other people outside their school groups.

One session divided the students into three groups to show how society can be discriminating. The three groups were Vanilla, Strawberry and Mint. The groups were moved into three marked off areas on the floor and had to build a “city” by purchasing supplies and building within their marked off area. There were certain rules and regulations for construction.

The Strawberry group got to leave the box area without permission, got extra supplies and didn’t have to follow the rules.

The Vanilla group was treated badly, they were punished for things they didn’t do and they were picked on a lot.

The Mint group got no special privileges and were not picked on. They just had to follow all the rules.

When students saw how the groups were treated unequally, it started an uproar among the students because everyone saw how unfair it was.

In another activity, there was a religion panel with four experts that shared information and answered questions about an interfaith community, Muslim, Hinduism and Judaism. It was an eye opening activity for the students.

While increasing leadership skills are important, they can also be a little fun. The groups did lots of chants and they were super obnoxious but they pumped up the students, Stegman said.

Students took part in HOBY Olympics where they played games designed to build cooperation and leadership skills.

In one game, the group formed circles and held hands continuously as they passed a hula hoop around the circle. Another game involved bouncing a ball between two sheets. Then there was a dance where every song was up beat to help keep the mood happy.

Before the conference started, the staff members made contact with each ambassador and filled them in on what they were going to experience. This helped create a sense of family and every group clicked right away. The groups had deep talks and a lot of fun, Stegman said.

For Stegman, HOBY taught her how to accept other cultures and every type of people. She learned to listen better and found that many students experience anxiety and even depression.

“It as eye opening that so many people at HOBY and people I know are going through the same thing,” Stegman said.

After the conference, Stegman has stayed in touch with the 13 people in her group “Black Panther” with snap chat and they are supportive of everything the group members do.

“I had an outstanding time and would 100 percent, absolutely do it again,” Stegman said.

@GaleR_Tribune