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Monday June 1st, 2015 11:36PM

Hall youths, Gut Check graduates learned life lessons

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
GAINESVILLE -- It will take Colby Landman a few days to get over the aches and strains from this weekend.

The lessons Landman learned through the Gainesville Jaycees' Gut Check program, however, will last a lifetime.

"I didn't know it would be that big of a workout," Landman, a West Hall Middle School student, said on Sunday, just after the Gut Check graduation ceremony at Gainesville Middle School. "I didn't know I would learn that much either though."

The Gainesville Jaycees hope to impart life lessons to all Gut Check candidates over the course of the four-day crash course for rising eighth graders that bases out of the campus of North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega.

"Hopefully we can give these kids life-building skills, hopefully we can help them succeed in life," Gut Check director Brian St. Pierre said. "Seeing the change in the kids over the four days is really amazing."

Thanks to some intense team-building exercises and facing the challenge of rappelling off of Mt. Yonah -- all backed by military-style discipline -- the Jaycees were able to show the 47 candidates in this year's class the courage, trust, teamwork and leadership that will aid them throughout their lives.

"I couldn't have done what I did this weekend without my teammates; we helped each out all weekend," said Gainesville Middle School student Quayshun Holcomb -- who was named Co-Mr. Gut Check for his efforts. "I learned you have to respect everybody, because you need them to help you, and you have to help them."

Juan Camacho -- who shared Mr. Gut Check honors with Holcomb -- took plenty of lessons to heart as well.

"I learned you have to respect your elders and others," said Camacho, a West Hall Middle student. "I had fun meeting all the other people this weekend, and I really enjoyed all the work that went into this weekend. It was a great experience."

It is an experience that Sunday's graduation speaker, Col. Butch Teston, U.S. Army, retired, hope that all candidates take to heart.

"Don't take anything for granted," Teston, a former Green Beret, implored the graduates and their families on Sunday. "Our lives in the history of this planet are a nano-second, so make the most of that short time. You've already won the lottery by being an American. You can do anything or be anything you want to in this country if you put your mind to it."

It is a message the Jaycees hope was learned by deed over the course of this weekend, as candidates bonded together in order to overcome obstacles and solve problems.

"This program is the best program we do," St. Pierre said. "It's huge for all of us."
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