(photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
To try to sum up a TeenPact four day class and political communication workshop in one post would be… well nigh impossible. So I’m not even going to try.
What I will say is that it was probably one of the most positively influential experiences of my life up until this point. I loved it to pieces.
And instead of doing a journal-style post as I was originally planning, I think I’ll just do pictures and captions. Or not. I really don’t know.
Basically, I’m winging it.
(photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
It began as a long walk after a long drive into a building of formidable size. There, we were all immediately greeted with bright smiles and firm handshakes from the staffers before we started to mingle and get to know each other. Then we settled down for the class. which soon had us all laughing with the staffers’ humorous skit of how a bill becomes a law.
(photo credit: Ross the Boss)
A skit that had Sarah taking off her shoe as she got ready to beat Zach over the head with it, while “Senator Deadman” watched in horror (don’t worry, nobody actually got hurt).
Afterwards, we all broke up into committees and I ended up on the fabulous AF committee headed by staffer Christian.
(photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
Once we had all gotten to know each other by answering a variety of interesting questions, it was time for us to elect a chairman and clerk for our committee. Much to my surprised delight, I was not only nominated for clerk but also elected clerk! And before that my buddy Jonathan A got chairman!
As a committee, we got to discuss and then pass or fail bills that had been assigned to our committee during TeenPact legislation (TP Leg) first reads. Most of the bills were of a serious nature, since all of us had been assigned to write up at least one serious bill (granted amendments could be [and were] made to add some humor). But then there were the hilariously outrageous bills, like Kaitlin’s “All TeenPact Males (including staffers) Must Wear Kilts” bill, where lack of cooperation would result in makeup, manicures, pedicures, etc. Luckily for the men, that bill did not pass.
(Christian acting as chairman and Sarah acting as clerk for TP Leg; photo credit: Giann)
Besides the excitement of TP Leg, we also got to listen to Senator Whatley, Senator McGillis, and Justice Moore speak! They were all incredibly insightful, and I learned a lot listening to them talk. And then there was the amazing fact that we got to go into the Alabama Supreme Court Courtroom to hear Justice Moore speak. So it was majorly awesome.
(Senator Whatley; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(Senator McGillis; photo credit: Giann)
(the group in the Alabama Supreme Court Courtroom listening to Justice Moore speak; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(me getting to ask Justice Moore a question after his speech; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
In addition to all of that, we got to have TeenPact elections! We were divided into four parties, and then the staffers helped the parties assess what their stance on certain issues would be, namely the coal mining industry in Alabama and the expansion of medicare under Obamacare. Within each party, then, one person was elected to run for governor and two people were elected to run for two of the three senatorial positions. When all was said and done, from our party, I was to be running for governor and Levi and Cody were to be running for the senatorial chairs the next day.
(Sierra and Benjamin helping our party, the capitalist party, assess what our platform would be; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
We got back to camp and, unlike the previous day, we had a lot of free time to kill before dinner. So what did we do? Well, ultimate Frisbee, of course!
(Christian in the middle of grabbing the Frisbee; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(Grayson and Levi going for the Frisbee at the same time; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(exhausted and getting ready for another round; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(tossing the Frisbee and doing some sort of strange Olympic ice skater flourish; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(the aftermath of barefoot ultimate Frisbee; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
But not only did we spend our free time over the next few days chasing a small, UFO-like disk, but we also played around on the mini golf course and shot some hoops (not that I actually shot any, haha). And then we hung out in the game room for pool, Ping-Pong, and foosball. One day Sarah pulled out her guitar and we proceeded to sing together! And then we’d have good old fashioned hang out time.
(Aimee and Kaitlin in awe; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(Kaitlin rocking at pool; photo credit: Giann)
(guitar time; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(Sarah at the guitar; photo credit: Ross the Boss)
(Rebecca, Sarah, Arienne, and Jonathan M chilling on the fence; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
And then there was before-dinner hacky sack led by pro hacky sack player Mr. Crum.
(photo credit: Sierra)
And then of course dinner time, which always abounded with delightful conversation! Not to mention tasty noms! I have to admit I was expecting some horrifying food, but it was quite good.
(my lovely friends; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
And then sometimes we had to goof off and try to imitate Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” with our forks, because that is one hundred percent normal.
(photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
Which was soon followed by a dart war from the other table (which apparently had been a staffer war all week according to Giann’s post, haha)!
(dart war victim number one, Zach; photo credit: Ross the Boss)
After dinner we would head back to the cabins for worship services with Christian and Grayson leading us in song and Mr. Crum leading the service, both of which were amazing. I have not felt that close to God in such a long time, and being there really helped to ignite my soul for Christ again, where it had been flickering dimly for far too long. It also proved to be such an intense bonding time for us all as we were encouraged on the first day to share a moment where God had moved in our life.
(Grayson at the guitar; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(Christian at the guitar; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(last night of worship together; photo credit: Sierra)
After session had drawn to a close, we were then free to hang out together until rendezvous. Usually a large group got together to play “Do You Love Your Neighbor?” which would later break off into smaller games of wink, ERS, ultimate basketball (I know I got that wrong, but I can’t remember its name), more foosball, and music time with guitars. And then, sometimes we’d just hang out and talk.
(do you love your neighbor; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(wink; photo credit: Sierra)
(so many smiling faces; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
And then after all the fun and games, we headed back to our rooms to get ready for bed and rendezvous. Rendezvous was basically a time lead by two of the lady staffers where we would all talk about our day, whether it was the field experiences or Mr. Crum’s sermon or what we were looking forward to the next day. Our rendezvous was lead by Sarah and Sierra, and I think it was definitely one of my most favourite parts of the whole event. And what a perfect way to end the day–girl talk, prayer, and scripture. And then the last night we had rendezvous, Sarah pulled out her guitar again and we sung our hearts out to “How He Loves Us,” “Oceans,” and more.
(rendezvous time; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
And before I go on to talk about the gubernatorial race on Wednesday, I should probably explain the crutches in that picture.
Okay, so we were walking back to the cabin from the cafeteria for session. It was about 6:30, so everything had gotten dark. I had been a little behind, so I was trying to quicken my pace so I wouldn’t be late. It was pitch black where I was walking–all I could see was the dim light several hundred meters ahead of me that illuminated the winding road–so I kept my focus on what I heard. For a little while, I had heard a soft grunting, but thought nothing of it. But then I stopped. Everyone had previously told me of the wild boar that roamed the woods and warned me to not spend time outside at night alone. My heart raced. I had to hurry. Within seconds, the grunting became more aggressive and the owner squealed. I spun my head around to see a short and stocky shadow running after me. In my fear, I tripped over my legs, twisting my right ankle. I screamed and cried as the boar rammed into me. My screams were heard by the group quite a ways ahead of me and the guys came running back, to beat the boar away and get me back to camp.
That was the story we came up with to make my clumsiness sound more exciting.
The truth? Walking back to camp after dinner, it was dark and I tripped over some giant tree roots, bruising up my knees and twisting my right ankle in the process. Even though that version is a lot less, well, dramatic, let me assure you that it was still pretty awful. The pain was excruciating to the point where I couldn’t walk. If it hadn’t been to the quick care of the staffers, parent chaperones, chefs, and my friends, I would have missed out on so much of TeenPact.
That said, I want to thank Mr. Mike, Mrs. Hill, Mrs. Peaches, the chefs (I never got their names), Christian, and Brandon for their immediate help right after the fall. They got me water, washcloths, bandaged up my foot, pain medicine, and then a van to get me back to camp–which ended up being more work than it should have been, but that’s all right. And then a super big thank you to Sienna for re-bandaging my foot and to Aimee for sharing her pain-away essential oils! And then thank you to Mr. Crum and Grayson for helping to put together the plan to take me to the doctor and to Mrs. Celeste for taking me to the doctor. Thank you to Mrs. Roxanne for driving me to and from the Judicial building so I could still participate in the field experiences. Thank you to Jake and Zach, and then to Benjamin and Caleb when I went and, erm, tripped again and re-smashed my foot, haha… And then finally a huge thank you to everyone for just being absolutely amazing and so supportive–you are all the greatest!
And now on to the gubernatorial elections!
So I found them to be exceptionally nerve-wracking, but really fun at the same time. Basically, all four of us candidates (Jonathan A, Anna Leigh, Allan, and myself) stood up on stage (well, they got a chair for me, haha), while our masters of election, Hannah and Zach, asked us questions. The questions ranged from relatively easy, our party’s stance on the expansion of medicare under Obamacare; to humorous, Disney princess you feel you relate to most; to challenging given the timeframe, whether justice or mercy is a the better trait in a leader. In the end, though, it was up to our constituents to decide.
(getting back just in time for the gubernatorial elections; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(hopscotching up the stairs onto the stage; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(answering those questions; photo credit: Giann)
(masters of elections, Zach and Hannah; photo credit: Giann)
(the four gubernatorial candidates post election; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
So who won?
Jonathan A! And he made an awesome governor.
But what about the senators, you say?
Levi, Jordan, and Jake!
(Jake, Jonathan A, Levi, and Jordan; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
And each one of them made awesome speeches the next day at graduation. I mean, wow! In less than twenty-four hours, they were all able to pull together some poignant and personal speeches. Pretty darn amazing.
The next day, we had the aforementioned visit to the Alabama Supreme Court, and I got to participate in a prayer walk with the AF committee again (besides all of the other activities of the day, i.e. quizzes and more quizzes)! I was beyond happy to finally be able to participate in a prayer walk with the committee again. The previous day, I had to sit it out thanks to my ankle, but it felt so good to be with them again, even if it was in whipping, icy wind.
Still, though, that last day of the four day class had to end. So after all of the (really awesome) speeches from TeenPact politicians, Grayson, and Mr. Crum; after being awarded with certificates for completion of the class; after numerous pictures; and after the TeenPact store was able to sell all of its Frisbees with the prospect of Christian singing One Direction, the four day class came to a close. It was hard to part with so many of my newfound friends, but we exchanged contact information in the hopes of coordinating attendance at alumni events (by the way, guys, I’m going to NC and so should you).
(with Levi; photo credit: Levi)
(with Kaitlin; photo credit: Ross the Boss)
(with Jordan; photo credit: Ross the Boss)
(with Sienna later that night; photo credit: Sienna)
(with Caroline on the first day and Jonathan A photobombing; photo credit: Ross the Boss)
Finally it was political communication workshop (PCW) the next day! This amazingly insightful class, lead by Grayson, was something I’ve really needed, but didn’t realize that I did. I actually really love public speaking and speeches and debating and all of that goodness. The only problem with all of that is that most of it I only know how to do in theory–debate in particular (I will finally be trying to join debate club next year). This class gave me the perfect opportunity to do some seriously thought-provoking improv. And it was really fun! Especially breaking off into teams to be biased news stations, haha.
(Baxley, Kasey, and Sienna planning something; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(liberally-biased news team planning our skit; photo credit Mrs. Peaches)
(Ellis was a pastor with 37 kids being interviewed by Christian S. on the conservatively-biased newscast; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
When the class ended, well, it was hard to believe that it was really over. That it was finally time to drive home and resume my normal routine. Before I went, though, of course I had to get pictures with all of the phenomenal staffers. Seriously, you guys were top notch. (I did forget to get a photo with Hannah, so shout out to you! I will be getting a picture with you first thing at NC!)
(with Christian and Grayson; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(with Giann; photo credit: Giann)
(with Sierra; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(with Benjamin; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(with Sarah; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
(with Zach; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)
Overall, TeenPact was spectacular–the classes, opportunities, people, and the message. You guys are the best!
(photo credit: Giann)