As alumni of the Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Camp, we feel it’s important to share how this extraordinary experience has helped shape our lives, ambitions, and outlook on government and education. Our names are Hunter White and Trex Jones, this is our story. We attended Camp O’Connor in the summer of 2018. We were both going into our eighth grade year. Trex describes his first day as a bit nerve-racking, but as the day progressed he met Hunter. Hunter was nervous to attend a camp almost 100 miles from home, but was excited to meet new people. The two met midday, and began discussing their plans for the camp. We both would discover that we wanted to run for president and that we were in the same party. We threw our hats in the ring. While Trex beat Hunter in a crowded primary, Hunter worked as Trex’s communications director. We wouldn’t win the race, but we found a friendship that lasts to this day. We think its important to share what we have done with our education and friendship from this camp in our lives since.
After camp I discovered my passion. I thought I wanted to be a salesman, but after I went to Camp O’Connor I found my love for public service. In my eighth grade year, I ran for and won student body president. To this day I am still in student government; I have been class president for two years, and I am now Arcadia High School student body president. My experience at Camp O’Connor motivated me to find new ways to serve my community. I joined the Scottsdale Mayor’s Youth Council in my sophomore year, and became the president during my Junior year. The Council feeds elders, cleans roads, and serves veterans. I was appointed to the Superintendent’s
Student Advisory Board of Scottsdale School District, and served as student president of the Student Advisory Board. I took part in finding innovative solutions to the academic and social issues caused by the pandemic. I also started committees which modernized the dress code, changed class rankings, and tested new technology for the district. In my sophomore year, I worked with the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute to start a new high school program. As part of the program we brought voter registration to Arcadia high school, hosted candidates for forums, and attained a grant for civic education. Because of my experience at Camp O’Connor serving my community has become immensely important to my life. I would never have pursued these opportunities to better my community if I had not attended Camp O’Connor. I would of missed out on important friendships that have helped me grow as a person and as a leader. In the future I hope to become a lawyer and serve my community.
I have been passionate about public service for a long time. I wanted to be a fireman when I was younger, but after serving on student council in sixth grade, I decided to change my direction. Camp O’Connor was a stepping stone to better things. I learned how to work with a team, met my best friend Trex, and learned so much along the way. Trex and I share many similarities, as I was also elected the student body president of my middle school. Though I wouldn’t participate in any activities my freshman year, I gained the confidence to do more for my community in my sophomore year because of the pandemic. I became class president, and served as a community liaison for my school to our community. After a friend of mine passed away from drug
abuse spurred by mental health issues, I pressured my district to hire a mental health counselor. In doing so, I was surprised and honored to become the first ever student on our school board in my district. We hired a full time mental health counselor, spent more for internet access and hygiene for students. I was elected school treasurer in my junior year, and in my senior year I ran unopposed for student body president. I proudly serve on the Executive Board of the Governor’s Youth Commission, and previously served as a councilman to the State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. I live in a small town in the north. As such, there aren’t a lot of opportunities, but I have made the most of the ones I have. I credit this mentality to succeed even if there aren’t many opportunities to Camp O’Connor. My skills in communication, level-headedness, and policy have all come from Camp O’Connor and have helped me gain the positions I have today. I hope one day to serve as a federal prosecutor, and later an elected representative for the people we serve. In addition to my leadership, I’m a pilot, a basketball player, and a photographer. Camp O’Connor taught me the skills to succeed and is an excellent example of ways to teach Arizona’s youth about their government and becoming leaders.
This summer we got to work together again at Arizona Boys State. Our experience at Camp O’Connor helped become Senate Majority Leader, and Party Chairman. Trex became a Justice, later ran for Governor, and was invited to attend Boys Nation in Washington, DC. We are so grateful for everything we learned at Camp O’Connor and hope to help many more kids who want to serve find their passion, and meet their best friend.