The YMCA offers a unique program for high school students called Youth and Government (Y and G) which sponsors an annual event in Sacramento, CA. The Santa Barbara Delegation is made up of many students who attend different high schools, a few attend San Marcos. The Sacramento trip took place over President’s Day weekend. The main goal of the weekend is to write and pass new legislation. Along with 3,000 other students, delegates start by travelling to Camp Roberts in Paso Robles twice throughout the year for training.
In Y and G, delegates have the opportunity to participate in Trial Court, Appellate Court, Supreme Court, Senate, Assembly, Constitutional Convention, National Issues Committee, Department of Finance, Board of Education, Page, Press, Political Parties, Political Polling, Judicial Review, Jury Trial, Lobbyist, or Forum. Forum is a program designated to only 9th graders. Many delegates say it is the best year of Y and G.
“Youth and Government is life changing,” said sophomore Blaise Lemos. “It is an amazing program offered to high school kids. It teaches you responsibility and public speaking. Being the bill sponsor for Santa Barbara delegation’s bill was exciting. I had fun speaking on the bill we all worked so hard to write. We were given so much freedom it felt awesome. I have learned so much from Y and G.”
All the training from Camp Roberts kicks in when delegates arrive in Sacramento. Delegations from San Francisco to San Diego board busses or planes early in the morning Wednesday or Thursday to head up to Sacramento. The action begins when the Youth Governor calls the first joint session to order. From then on, delegates are trusted to get to their sessions on time, be prepared to speak and debate, and explore the capital.
No other program is allowed to use the actual Senate, Assembly chambers, and the actual governor’s office. The real California State Legislature leaves for the week while more than 3,000 high school students take over Sacramento.
“People would ask me, ‘What are you doing?’ Since all they saw were thousands of students dressed fancy and talking about our bills. I was in Forum which was really cool. My committee’s bill about implementing LGBT education to health classes passed through both houses and made it all the way to the youth governor. It’s an experience I will never forget,” said freshman Mia Relis.
If you are interested in government or just want to hang out with a great group of people, check out the Santa Barbara Delegation’s Youth and Government.