As we arrived at the 4‑H Conference Center from our crazy journeys to Citizenship Washington Focus, a lot of us were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. We unloaded the buses and stepped through the door ready to go. We were first introduced to the people who would be helping us out all week, our Program Assistants. They explained that they would be with us everywhere and that if we had any questions that we could always go to them. Once we were able to meet some of the other delegates and Program Assistants, we realized it was going to be an amazing week, but little did we know that with every activity or every place we visited, there would be something to help us learn how to become a better citizen and leader.
On Monday morning, we visited Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, one of our nation’s greatest founding fathers. We learned how he led the nation in the Revolutionary War and was instrumental in the establishment of the government. Returning to the Conference Center, we broke into groups where we discussed controversial issues and how we would fix them, seeing the legislative process in action by writing bills. This gave us a taste of what happens in Congress. Later in the evening, we toured the various memorials. At each one, we were able to learn more about the history of the United States and the leaders that have shaped that history. Overall, we were able to explore different styles of leadership and how each leader (and style of leadership) has left a different print on the country.
Bright and early Tuesday morning, we were off to visit more memorials and Arlington National Cemetery, adding even more leadership styles to our collection. Some of our fellow delegates were able to try out their leadership styles through the CWF derby, a field day type event that a group of delegates plans and leads while we are here. The Derby allowed us to meet and really get to know the other people at CWF through games and other entertaining activities, ranging from Capture the Flag to Freeze Tag and Musical Chairs. While the Derby is planned by the Healthy Living Committee, a later event on Tuesday was planned by the Open Mindedness Committee, Town Hall. This was a highlight of the day where we were able to break into small groups and discuss some major issues that affect our communities and our nation. The delegates facilitating the Town Hall encouraged us to share our opinions, think of possible solutions, and see that our voices truly do matter. Good citizens and leaders work on trying to fix issues by discussing them and coming up with solutions. Overall, Tuesday provided us with insight on how we can focus on the four H’s that we use in 4‑H – our heads, our hearts, our hands, and our health- to better living for our club, our communities, and our world.
Wednesday found us on Capitol Hill for most of the day. There, CWF delegates from all over the United States were able to meet with their Congressmen and Congresswomen to share their 4‑H stories. In addition to their 4‑H stories, many delegates had the opportunity to ask their senators and representatives about the congressional process, leadership skills, and community issues. Wednesday finished with us attending Twilight Tattoo at Fort Myer and visiting the 9/11 Memorial, Air Force Memorial, and Marine Corps War Memorial.
During the week, we had the chance to explore citizens and leaders throughout history as well as plan and lead events at CWF. On Thursday, we worked more on being leaders in our home communities by creating action plans that we could use to implement change in our communities with the skills we’ve learned at CWF. After spending some time at the National Cathedral, it was time for our Mock Congressional Session where we were able to debate the bills we had worked on all week.
In conclusion, with every memorial we saw and activity we did this week, we were asked to consider how it related to citizenship and leadership. We were taught how Congress actually works and were able to see it in action (in real life and in our own Congressional Session). We were able to discuss real issues with our senators and representatives and come up with our own plans to combat an issue in our communities. Even with all of this learning, we still had a lot of fun and we would recommend this program and experience to anyone in 4‑H who would like to come and learn about our country’s government. We would also recommend the program to anyone who wants to become a leader and good citizen. Similarly, we would recommend it to anyone who wants to meet 4‑H’ers from other states. Really, we would just recommend the program. Overall, it was an awesome week for the entire 4‑H crew from all over the country, and we want others to know that the new generation starts with us.