Well this may seem a little late and out of context, but I’m writing this none the less. I’d like to write about my trip to the National Young Leaders State Conference (NYLSC). I know Nella (I’ll call him “Ian”) will have something to say, because we went together. This should be a fair and honest review/story of the NYLSC program from someone who went as a 9th grader (Just an FYI to all you NYLSC googlers). Here goes nothing:
Arriving early to catch our AMTRAK train to Sacramento, Ian and I were hyped. We had just gotten up way too early, thrown on our *casual business* attire and met up for the 3 (ish) hour trip to Sacramento. Boarding the train with our briefcases and sunglasses, we felt so suave. I mean, we were missing school for this!
Well it wasn’t long before we found another guy who was headed to NYLSC. So the three of us grabbed a table, stowed our briefcases and got comfy. It was a long, somewhat boring ride. But the magic of being away from school and being trusted to make it to Sacramento without our parents was … exhilarating. When we arrived in Sacramento, we kind of just bumbled around the city until we found the metro. But we bumbled in style, of course, with our shiny dress shoes and shades. We are the future! was the attitude we rode in with. The metro was nice and clean, and we were sitting happily at our seats when we realized we didn’t have tickets. Someone on the train overheard us, and told us to chill, because we were almost there and the ticket-checkers probably wouldn’t show up. Well, they did, but they didn’t make it to us, so we avoided the no-ticket fine. Heh. Our next project was to make it to the actual hotel where this whole NYLSC thing was about to go down. We called up the hotel and they sent us a minivan to pick us up. Score!
The scene at the hotel was pretty bopping. There were a couple hundred other teens, all looking pretty much exactly the same as we did. Ahh, we’ve come to right place, I thought. There were still a lot of parents hovering over their kids, fixing their ties and tucking in their shirts, and looking nervously at the other kids. Everyone was in some sort of line, and we figured out it was for being assigned group numbers and given work booklets and *pens*. Yea, that’s right, we spent ~$1200 and we got *pens*. Shweet. Ian and I had been assigned to different groups and different roommates (which was good, I can only take so much of that guy ). Next we were told to head up to our assigned room numbers and just chill. When I got there, some kids had already found their way there, and were happily introducing themselves to eachother. Almost too happily, you might say. We must have played the name game 40 times or so.
After waiting around in our tiny room for about half an hour, our instructor Tommy showed up. And he had us play the name game once more. Heh. Well now that everyone’s names were etched into my brain, we were ready to get started. For starters, Tommy just kind of told us what we were going to be doing (learning leadership stuff) and the rules (don’t do anything stupid), so that lasted for quite a while. We started with some basics, respecting other people’s opinions and not being bossy. He wanted to get us started as nice leaders before we actually starting…err…leading. I don’t really remember what all we did after that.
Then it was dinner time. Everyone filed out of our little room and headed downstairs, where a giant opening banquet was in store. The food was excellent the entire trip (even for a picky eater like me). My only qualms were that occasionally I would have liked a bigger portion. Ian seemed to feel that way a lot. This was also our first chance to socialize with the other kids; they all seemed to be from similar backgrounds as Ian and I. One thing I liked was all the diversity. There were people from every little nook and cranny of California, big cities and small cities alike. When I signed up for NYLSC, I was worried that it would just be a bunch of upper-middle class white kids talking politics. But it was so much better. There were plenty of people of other ethnicities, and kids who claimed loyalty to all sorts of political parties. *Sigh of Relief* A lot of the kids had big egos, used to being dominant (leaders) at their own schools. But now, everyone was like that, so the atmosphere was a little odd, with so many strong-headed chaps in one room.
Once our last bite of dessert was finished, we were excused to our rooms, and told to get plenty of rest for the huge day tomorrow. Looking at the schedule, I decided the counselours were right, and that I should get as much sleep as possible. They had about 20 things they had selected for us to learn! My roommate was great, and yes, we had our own beds. *Set alarm clock* *Go to sleep*
**BBBZZZ** Time for school! Wait no, I don’t have school today. Haha those suckers, back at home who have to learn stuff…Err nevermind, I’m probably learning more here anyways. Got dressed, took a shower, went for breakfast, etc. That day, we learned so much. Our group leader Tommy got us going with a couple focus and teamwork games, which were a blast, then set in for some discussions about what a great leader is and how to be one and all that fun stuff. There was actually a ton of great information. Problem solving and team work were focused on a lot.
We pretty much worked hard for the next two days without much stopping. We finally got tired of working in our cramped hotel room and decided to go outside and work from there. We were told to formulate a plan to cross the freeway by the side of the hotel. Not that we were actually going to do it, but just to see if we could come up with a feasible plot that we could all agree on. That was good.
One thing worth mentioning were the dances the last two nights. They ruled. They were pretty much the perfect way to blow off steam, and a lot of the kids were really into it (even those that I could tell would never be into it at their own school dances). Ian and I were pretty much kings of the dancefloor, and he started break dancing and all. After that, we thought we were the hottest shit in the world.
After all that bonding, I’ll bet you can guess what happened. Crushes? Secrets? Heh, yup. Some people stayed up quite late talking on the hotel phones, not really saying much, just sort of gossiping and all that. Then one of the girls called us and told us to turn to channel 4 on our TVs. Hehe, topless chicks riding horses. Hehe. Considering it was like 2 AM and we had cable TV, it was bound to be noticed by someone. Not something the NYLSC people could predict, or I’m sure they would have been all over blocking that channel. Heh.
By the end, everyone was glued to eachother. Literally. My group was so in love with Tommy that everyone pitched in to buy him a teddy bear. People were getting eachothers’ screen names and emails, giving millions of hugs, and some were super into the “we are family” kind of thing. I wasn’t wild about everyone in my group, so I wasn’t like “Omigosh I’m gonna miss you sooooo much you have to email me and stay in touch forever. I feel like you’re my brother. Omigosh.” There were some cool people though, some people I’d like to stay in touch with (more than half a year later, I haven’t really done that). Well that about sums it up. Here’ s a quick recap:
Was it worth $1200? Certainly.
Would you do it again? Nah, probably not.
Did you actually learn leadership skills? I think so. There are some things I still apply today that I learned from it, which is good. We got a lot of excellent information, which I didn’t exactly go into detail with in my ramblings above. Ya, good stuff.
Democrat or Republican? … Democrat.
Well there it is. All my thoughts on NYLSC. I wrote this up in a flurry so there may be some typos and wacky sentences, but suck it up! If you’ve landed on this page and are considering going to to NYLSC..I’d say go for it. You’ll enjoy it. Feel free to post a comment or question (below) and I’ll be happy to answer it. Also, if any of you people from the organization want to say anything, go ahead. Peace.