Congratulations! If you attended Citizenship Washington Focus this year, you have found the best place to reflect on your experiences. If you plan on attending in the future, you have found the best place to learn about CWF and all that it entails. We’re here to tell you, you’re in for late nights, early mornings, aching feet, and crazy humidity… However, we STRONGLY encourage you to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. The week you spend in D.C. will be a series of truly amazing experiences. Here are just a few memories from our week as CWF delegates:
Sunday: We Arrive
We made our way to Washington, D.C. and the National 4‑H Center. Our week, delegates came from states as far away as Utah and as close as Kentucky. Some of us were nervous; others just happy to get out of a crowded bus or airplane. However, any nerves we had quickly vanished when we got to meet and interact with other delegates. Our PA’s (Program Assistants) got us involved right away with games and conversations. Following that, we split into our committees of choice. This is where we (your blogging committee) all met! Later that afternoon, we had the opportunity to meet even more people at the pin trade and social. We made a lot of connections and collected a lot of pins (especially from Wisconsin)!
Tuesday: Working as a Team
We spent the morning touring Arlington National Cemetery and got to witness the changing of the guard, a truly unique & amazing experience! After coming back to the center for lunch, we got to play games centered around teamwork. It really brought us closer to those who we would be working and spending a lot of time with throughout the week. Later that evening, we discussed some of the issues each delegate’s community was facing in a “Town Hall.” This helped each of us develop a better understanding of views that may potentially conflict with our own in a neutral and educational environment. It also helped each of us to become a little better and more compassionate citizen by showing us the multiple sides issues. We ended the day by coming up with strategies to present the bills we had written earlier in the week.
Wednesday: Capitol Hill Day/Twilight Tattoo
Each delegation split up to explore Capitol Hill as they pleased. Some groups visited the National Archives to see the documents on which our country and government are founded upon. Many delegations visited their state’s Congressmen to learn about their job and responsibilities and take a tour of the Capitol building. At the end of the day, we attended Twilight Tattoo, a live-action military pageant featuring Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” We also stopped to see the Iwo Jima and Air Force Memorials on our way back to the 4‑H Center that evening. Seeing everything lit up at night was beautiful!
Thursday: Wrap-up Begins
By the time Thursday rolled around, it was starting to sink in that our week together in our nation’s capital was coming to an end. This was a day full of “lasts.” The last site we visited together was the National Cathedral. We went first thing in the morning when the rising sun through the stained glass windows painted rainbows on the pointed arches. We ate a last lunch in the Clover Café and then we held a mock congressional session where we voted on the bills we had written throughout the week. Following that, we held our last committee meeting. It was bittersweet. On one hand, it was satisfying to see everything that we had been working on in the communications committee piece together, but at the same time it was sad to think that everything we worked on together was finished and there was nothing else for us to do. That evening, each delegation got to plan their own night out in the District. Activities ranged from attending a very formal dinner theater to laying blankets out on the grass near the Martin Luther King Memorial and watching a movie on an inflatable big screen.
Friday: Leaving our Mark
On our final day, each delegation did all that they could to leave Washington, D.C. with a bang. This included visiting the paddle boats at the Tidal Basin, witnessing a protest in front of the White House, shopping at street vendors, and so much more! It was everybody’s last day to shop for souvenirs, visit that attraction they’d been putting off, and just enjoy having a day without a strict schedule. That evening, we held the talent show where average delegates, no different than the rest of us, showed off all of the amazing things they’re capable of. Then, we had the closing ceremonies and slideshow. It was crazy to see how much we had done and how close we had grown in just one week. We ended that evening with a dance. Everybody did their best to have a great time before having to say goodbye.
On Saturday, we all started going our separate ways. Some people got the chance to tell their new friends goodbye, and others didn’t. Some spent another day touring the capital, while some hopped straight onto a plane. Everybody was exhausted. Everybody’s feet hurt from walking all week. Everybody was probably looking forward to being back in the comfort of their home, but NOBODY actually wanted the week to be over. CWF was not just your average tour of the Nation’s Capital, nor was it your average summer camp. It was a combination of hundreds of unique and amazing experiences, memories, and friendships that somehow fit in just one week. It taught us so much more about our nation’s history and ourselves as American citizens than any number of textbooks ever could. It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity and if you are ever given the chance to attend, do it and make the best of it because you’ll never experience anything else like it.