FAIRMONT — Joe Biden may have more experience in office than Logan Cameron, but the Fairmont Middle School student could probably trounce the vice president in a soccer match.
Cameron, a 13-year-old Lumber River Soccer Association All-Star, was recently elected vice president of the North Carolina Junior Beta Club during the organization’s 22nd annual state convention in Greensboro.
Established in 1933 and headquartered in Spartanburg, S.C., the National Beta Cub encompasses more than 8,000 international branches. It boasts more than 6 million alumni, with notable past members ranging from former President Bill Clinton to pop superstar Justin Timberlake.
The club’s senior division is open to high school students, while fourth through eighth grade students participate in the junior division. Both divisions serve to recognize exceptional academic performance and encourage civic responsibility in young people, according to a mission statement on the club’s website.
Cameron is a straight-A student whose extensive list of community service efforts include organizing canned food drives and reading to nursing home patients, but her greatest passion appears to be soccer.
She got hooked on the sport when she was just 4 years old.
“I play defense, midfield, a little bit of everything,” she said. “My campaign slogan was ‘Go for the Goal,’ because in real life and in soccer, I set goals and try to achieve them.”
Cameron incorporated the game into virtually every aspect of her campaign presentation, which was judged by more than 4,000 student delegates from across the state at the Sheraton Four Seasons in Greensboro on Feb. 4.
She confessed to experiencing a minor case of pre-show jitters before addressing the large audience.
“I was nervous at first, but when I got up there and started, it wasn’t so bad,” she said.
Her initial bout with stage fright aside, Cameron exuded confidence as she delivered her campaign speech. The teenager spoke in a strong, assertive voice quite different from the mild, friendly cadence she employs in casual conversation. In the speech, she used soccer as a metaphor for personal betterment and quoted legendary player Mia Hamm.
“On the soccer field, you have to watch the other team’s defense, find their weak areas and attack the goal in order to score,” she told the crowd. “As your next vice president, I would make it my personal mission to set attainable and reasonable goals for helping our organization become even better.”
Immediately following Cameron’s speech, members of Fairmont Middle School’s Junior Beta Club performed an elaborate skit featuring a high-energy dance routine built around an imaginary soccer match in support of her candidacy.
“It was pretty cool. I was so nervous when we got there, but I just focused on the light in the back of the room and went for it,” said 12-year-old Jenae Little-John, one of the 32 students who performed. “It took a lot of work, but it was worth it.”
During the routine, Smash Mouth’s 1999 hit “All Star” blared as Cameron’s supporters waved handmade signs reminding voters to cross out the box for candidate No. 10 on their ballots.
A large poster with Cameron’s picture superimposed on the front of a box of Wheaties cereal was one of several props set up on stage during the club’s performance.
Voting was held afterward, and the final tally found Cameron ahead of opponent Vivica Moore, a student at East Rutherford Middle School in Bostic.
She was inducted during a candlelight ceremony at the end of the convention.
Cameron is the second student from Fairmont Middle School to be elected vice president of the North Carolina Junior Beta Club, following Kierra Pittman in 2005.
Pittman, now a sophomore at Winston Salem State University, attended the convention in support of Cameron.
“People constantly put students from this area down for not being as intelligent, and I think it says a lot that we can put our kids out there and prove that we’re just as good as any other part of the state,” said Jamie Burney, a language arts teacher at Fairmont Middle School and one of the Beta Club’s sponsors.
Sponsors help raise money to take students to conventions and assist them with organizing community service projects.
“We’re kind of like advisers. We check grades and make sure the kids are not getting in trouble,” Burney said. “We do some of the legwork, but carrying it out falls on the students. We try to stay behind the scenes.”
As part of her new role, Cameron will attend leadership workshops over the summer, speak at Beta Club events across the state, and help plan next year’s convention. In June, she will travel to Richmond, Va., to run for vice president of the National Junior Beta Club.
“I’m nervous because there will be more people there, but if I can do it in front of 4,000, I think I’ll be fine,” Cameron said.
So does Cameron plan to hang up her cleats for a career in politics as an adult?
“I don’t really know. I like that Beta Club gives us a chance to perform and speak in front of people, and if you want to run for an actual office, I think it’s good practice,” she said.