Kade McAdams | Tri-County EC, 2019
Kade McAdams was just one of the 157 teens that made up Texas’ Youth Tour delegation in 2019. But McAdams, sponsored by Tri-County Electric Cooperative, quickly distinguished himself when he was chosen by the trip’s chaperones to represent Texas on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Leadership Council. Then, several months later, the Seymour High School senior was selected to be the YLC’s national spokesperson from among the more than 1,800 teens who went on the trip that summer—the first Texan in about a quarter century to be named to the position. We recently caught up with McAdams to ask him about his Youth Tour experience.
Your Tour: Once you found out you were going on Youth Tour, what were your thoughts as the date of the trip approached?
Kade McAdams: I was extremely nervous about the trip. I had all kinds of doubts running through my head: Would I be that one kid that had no friends on a trip full of kids? Would I be too homesick to even enjoy the 10-day getaway? I also had been told that I was a finalist for the Youth Leadership Council and thus had a lot of anxiety about obtaining the Texas delegate position.
YT: What were your favorite parts of the trip?
KM: My favorite part was visiting the Museum of the Bible—although the late-night Target runs were a close second.
YT: How were you selected as Texas’ YLC delegate?
KM: The first night of Youth Tour, when we were still in Austin, I and a handful of other finalists were interviewed by a panel of chaperones, who then observed us for the remainder of the trip and took note of how we interacted with the other youths and exhibited leadership abilities.
YT: How you were chosen as the YLC national spokes-person, and what does that position entail?
KM: On a second trip back to D.C., the youth representative from each state was required to present a speech before a panel of judges about what inspired them during their Youth Tour trip. I never believed, not even once, that I would be chosen as the national spokesperson, so I was speechless and shocked when my name was called.
As the YLC spokesperson, I presented my speech in March 2020 at the NRECA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. I prepared for the role by practicing my speech with my sponsoring co-op and a speech coach.
YT: How did Youth Tour and your YLC experience affect you?
KM: When you are on a 10-day trip with complete strangers, you are forced to make friends—it’s a sink-or-swim scenario. I can say that the strangers I met on day one and two are now some of my closest friends. It has encouraged me to frequently go out of my comfort zone in my “regular life” because as scary as it may be, incredible outcomes are a possibility.
My mom says the experience has changed my self-confidence for the better. Before being chosen as the YLC spokesperson, I never fully believed in any of my abilities. Sure, I have received a lot of blue ribbons and stand out from the crowd every now and then, but I just always credited it to not having a large number to compete against since I am from a small community. Being chosen as the Texas delegate and then the YLC national spokesperson has proven to me that I can shine in an even bigger galaxy of stars than my own. Most importantly, I am now more confident in my abilities.