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What I Learned at TeenPact

By Laura Hinely
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #49, 2002.

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Laura Hinely


Florida Governor Jeb Bush shook my hand in February of this year. In October of 2000, I visited the Mongolian Embassy to the United Nations in New York. I've traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn about campaigning, and spent a week in Alabama with over a hundred other Christian students who care about making a difference in today's government.

TeenPact is the non-profit organization that enabled me to travel to these places as a high-school student. TeenPact has been one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.

All students begin at the same place in TeenPact - attending a four-day class at their state capital. Most of these classes take place from January to May. North Carolina and Massachusetts are presently the only states with summer classes. TeenPact is currently in 33 states, from Hawaii to New York, and their goal is to be in all fifty. At a state class the goal is to get students involved in everything and let them experience the political process first-hand. Students coming to TeenPact do not just read a book about how a bill becomes a law, they write their own bill and pass it in a mock legislation using parliamentary procedure!

I attended my first TeenPact class only because some of my friends were going. First, I completed the preliminary homework - writing a bill, memory verses, setting up meetings with our legislators, reading the state of the state address, and writing a paper on "Leaders in the Bible." Then I packed my clothes and drove with three other friends to Tallahassee.

The excitement hit us when we realized we were in the very place that laws were passed, and important people made decisions every day! I still remember the friendly smiles of the well-dressed staff greeting me when I arrived at the capital in Tallahassee for my first TeenPact class four years ago - they looked me in the eye and shook my hand. The week had so many surprises in store for my friends and me. Various elected officials gave motivating speeches. We watched anxiously and prayed as the senate debated a partial-birth abortion bill. I met my senator and Lieutenant Governor Frank Brogan. I learned the basics of parliamentary procedure and visited the Supreme Court. I couldn't wait to go home and tell my parents everything I had learned.

I know what you're thinking: "But my son or daughter doesn't want to be a politician! Why should they go to TeenPact?" I don't want to be the first female President of the United States either; I want to get married and be a mother. But I also want to be a good citizen, I want to know how to make a difference, understand legislation, and be aware of current events. TeenPact provides a way that someone as young as 13 can spend four days at their capital to begin to learn and be excited about being involved in government! Tuition is quite affordable: only $169 for all four days (meals not included). Even kids between the ages of 8 and 12 can attend the one-day class at their state capital, for just $39.

What better place to learn about the political system than TeenPact, with other Christian young people who hold high moral standards? TeenPact is extremely educational, yet it is also the spiritual aspect that inspires the students. The TeenPact staff begins each four-day class in prayer for all the students. Every day starts out with singing praises to God and a devotion led by one of the staff.

With this spiritual bond and a desire to be responsible citizens, TeenPact students find they have many things in common. I have been staffing TeenPact classes for the last three years and like many other TeenPact students, I've made life-long friends. Most state classes provide a camp for students to spend the night at during the week, and after a long day at the capital, we have fun together!

TeenPact's motto is "Changing Lives To Change America." My life is one of the many that has been changed by TeenPact, spiritually and politically. Now I am always reading up on current events and bills that are on the floor. I've volunteered to help out my local Republican Party and met my congressman. Spiritually, I am more focused. I have had so much encouragement from TeenPact to honor my parents, to be modest, to serve others. I want to pass on the encouragement that the TeenPact leaders gave me, the encouragement and wisdom that has helped me grow as a Christian.

TeenPact plants the seed of desire in students to be leaders, a desire to serve others, and a desire to make a difference. Americans should have a passion for citizenship! TeenPact provides a positive environment that instills these values in families. I encourage all students and their parents who hold these same ideals to attend TeenPact.

Levels of participation in TeenPact vary. Some students may chose to only attend the four-day state class, while others may go on to staff future classes. After attending the four-day state class, students may chose to go to TeenPact alumni events. These events are only open to alumni of the state classes, so start planning to attend your state class next year if any of these interest you! Bear in mind that all the alumni class prices include room and board as well as tuition.

  • The Washington D.C. class on August 10-16, 2002, focused on campaigning. Students stayed at Patrick Henry College, heard lectures from Mike Farris, and traveled into the city each day for classes at the Leadership Institute. I came home from this class a couple years ago with fifty pages of notes and I used the things I learned when I volunteered on the George W. Bush campaign in 2000. This class is $249.

  • Leadership Summit is in the Fall. It is a weekend filled with inspirational speakers and the focus is on young people learning to serve and be leaders. This year it was October 9-13 at Rock Eagle 4-H Camp in Eatonton, GA. Cost: $199.

  • For people who love the great outdoors, there is TeenPact Survival. This was one of my favorite alumni events. We had a whole day in the woods where each team cooked their own lunch, built a shelter and a compass. I learned a lot about teamwork skills, and dependence on God. This year there were two locations, New Mexico (Aug 24-29) and the North Georgia Mountains (Sept 24-29). $179.

  • TeenPact Mountaintop is another outdoor event, this time in the Grand Tetons, on September 4-12. It's an amazing eight-day backpacking trip. $699.

  • TeenPact University is an apologetics class, July 18-23. Chris Sherrod teaches the classes on defending your Christian faith. This was in Carmel Retreat Center in Hoschton, Georgia. $299.

  • Anyone who wants to be an Attorney or Judge should attend TeenPact Judicial. Attorneys give advice how what a Christian should do as an Attorney or Judge. This year's class was July 25-31 in Hoschton, GA. $299.

  • I've never attended TeenPact Challenge, because it's for young men only! Challenge is set in the woods in northeast Georgia and provides both physical and spiritual training for those who want to be mature Christian men, husbands, and fathers. This year it was October 22-26. $189.

  • TeenPact President's School also takes place in Georgia. The purpose of this class is to prepare individuals and families to run for political office. There is no President's School this year, but there may be again in future years. $299.

  • National Convention is the most widely attended TeenPact event. Students come from all over the United States to listen to excellent speakers, such as Bill Jack from Worldview Academy, and attend various workshops. This year the TeenPact National Convention was held in May on St. Simon's Island, Georgia. $299.

    If the alumni summer and fall events look good to you, then start planning to attend your next state TeenPact class in January through May 2003!

WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?

TeenPact
PO Box 9
Jefferson, GA 30549
(888) 343-1776
http://www.teenpact.com


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