Katlin Knutson a National Guard top shot

Katlin Knutson attended the 2007 South Dakota National Guard Youth Leadership Camp on July 16 through 20 at Camp Bob Marshall in Custer State Park. Katlin competed against 113 other 10 to 13-year-old children in air rifle shooting contests. She not only won the Top Shot Award, but also two other trophies in various categories.

The South Dakota National Guard Family Support Office partnered with 4-H during the 2007 SDNG Youth Leadership Camp on July 16 through 20 at Camp Bob Marshall in Custer State Park.

Katlin Knutson, 10-year-old daughter of Barry and Edna Knutson of Philip, won the overall youth pellet rifle shooting contest at the camp. Out of 114 kids, ages 10 through 13, she earned the "Top Shot" award and two other trophies in different shooting categories. One of her targets showed a 100 percent bullseye score.

This was the seventh year the SDNG has held the Youth Leadership Camp for SDNG youth, and the second year the camp was held at Camp Bob Marshall.

"We were very excited about this year as we introduced some new activities such as field trips to Crazy Horse Monument and Reptile Gardens," said Camp Director Tech. Sgt. Casey Bullis. Some of the other camp activities included visiting the Mount Rushmore Lighting Ceremony, trips to the Veteran's Home and Evan's Plunge in Hot Springs and the ever popular Karaoke Dance. "The week is packed full of fun," said Bullis.

Knutson has been asked to join the National Guard Youth Shooting Program, but she thinks practicing in Rapid City two nights a week during the school year would be too much. She does plan on attending the camp next year. "The best thing was the shooting. The worst was the KP duty. For food, the pudding was the best. The hardest part was the canoeing because my friend and I didn't know how to use it." Will she shoot well again? "Maybe. But, I don't see how you can shoot really bad." She said that she would like to someday go hunting "for deer; I like the jerky."

The most important goal of the SDNG Youth Leadership Camp is to bring together children from 10 to 13 years of age whose parents or relatives belong to the South Dakota National Guard or Reserves, said Bullis. He explained that these youth have the opportunity to meet others who have a parent in the military and to learn coping skills to deal with deployment related stress. In addition, the camp promotes respect, friendship, leadership and teamwork as well as builds self-esteem and self-confidence.