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.
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