On June 28, I and seven other Big Horn High School Future Business Leaders of America members travelled to Chicago, Illinois, for four days of leadership conference and two days of, “Are we there yet?”
Eddie Atter, Rebecca Gilbert, Mason Lube, Christian Mayer, Hunter Sersland, Bryce Michaud and Emily Kidneigh joined me with our two advisers, Justin and Gina Kidneigh, for the trip after placing in the top four at the Wyoming State FBLA competition.
Bonding through the blood, sweat and tears (but mostly sweat) of the seven-hour bus ride, our Big Horn chapter was accompanied by the Sheridan and Buffalo teams all the way to Denver. Making our flight without too many more tears, we hopped on a train and finally arrived at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.
That infamous first night will be retold for years to come, I’m sure, by all those who were truly coherent for the whole of it. During our hike through the city, many group members made the false assertion of, “Isn’t this the city that never sleeps?” No, that’s New York, but you’d think we’d still be able to find something to eat in a city at midnight.
We eventually spotted that beautiful, glorious Subway, ordered our sandwiches and sleepwalked our way back to the hotel.
Allow me to demonstrate some simple math: one hotel plus 11,000 of my closest friends equals elevator death. Naturally, with this number of lazy, high school kids flitting about the same hotel, there was a bit of a, shall we say, “drag” with the elevator system. Never, have I ever, climbed so many stairs in my existence.
Such conundrums as these really help youth to appreciate the modern technologies we’ve become so accustomed to. I’ve considered making T-shirts with an “I survived the 14th floor” logo, but as most of my friends have lost their taste for those handsome, matching group T-shirts, little progress has been made on that front.
As each member or group competed in only one event, there was plenty of spare time to shuffle us off to, as I like to call it, leadership babysitting. Don’t get me wrong; some of these workshops definitely have their redeeming qualities.
For example, my friends and I attended, “Turning your Passion into a Business,” where we sorted ourselves into groups and were, first, instructed to find a common interest within our group. While other groups chose frilly subjects such as cigarette reform or science-y, nutrient-infused water, my group really went for a hard-hitting category: cinnamon rolls. I won’t bore you with the ingenious details, but everyone should be watching the shelves for “Pop n’ Roll.”
Throughout the rest of the trip, our advisers were truly brilliant. Attending group meetings just before curfew kept us tired enough to stay tucked in our beds instead of out on the town for nights of wild, teenage debauchery.
The Kidneighs will be pleased to know our heads did not leave our pillows until they were forcibly removed.
Our time in Chicago ended on a triumphant note with two of our own, Atter and Michaud, placing ninth in the nation for mobile application development.
Our time outside Chicago, however, was not finished. The flight was smooth and the bus time endurable, but it baffles me to this day how we took over an hour to stop for a “quick lunch” at a fast food restaurant. We must’ve spent more time ordering chicken nuggets than we did taking “selfies” at Cloud Gate or exploring the Field Museum. Our priorities are clear.
Despite certain members’ appetite for nuggets, we made it home before 2016. I may not have earned a trophy, but in my eyes, I gained something much greater: a keychain.
By Kaylin McKinley