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Leadership Conferences for Teens

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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Leadership Conferences for Teens


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National Student Leadership Conf. and/or JSA

Feb 2012

Hi - we're looking for something meaningful and engaging for our son this summer - he's interested in politicals, the election, government service, United Nations, and the like. He's a smart cookie, very responsible, very good student, just finishing his sophomore year at a local private school. Not a nerd, not a brainic, just a very solid citizen interested in the inner workings of democracy. He's looking into the Summer Institute at Georgetown (or is it George Washington) offered by the Junior Statesman of America. This looks interesting and high-end and would give him an opportunity to go East and live on campus and meet with high-powered insider-types. Very appealing. But it also seems quite academic (term paper and all) and would prefer a break from that over the summer (which is understandable). We just received a brochure from the National Student Leadership Conference . They appear to have great offerings that look right up his alley (''Experience the Life of a Diplomat'', ''US Policy and Politics''). But who are these folks? Has anyone had direct dealings with either organization and could offer feedback on the pros and cons of either program? There is no JSA at my son's campus, and I think he'd have to start his own chapter, and I'm not sure he's up for that. If anyone has any leads on other great summer programs of this sort, either local or back East, we'd be very grateful to benefit from your experience. mom of future senator


Your 10th grade son should go to the Junior Statesman of America (JSA) rather than the National Student Leadership Conference. The JSA is a well-respected and well-known organization.

My daughter attended 2 of the Nat'l Student Leadership conferences. They were very expensive and not too loaded with content. Basically, it is similar to a ''Who's Who'' in the professional world...if someone doesn't know about it, it looks impressive, but it really isn't. She didn't learn very much in the Nat'l Student Leadership conferences, which she attended in 8th grade and then went to Obama's inauguration in 11th grade. The inauguration trip, in particular, was not very well organized After being promised that they the group would attend the inauguration, my daughter's group was sequestered in a cafe to watch the inauguration on a big screen t.v. She was able to attend an inaugural ball, however.

My daughter had a high school friend, who was a member of the Junior Statesman, and their organization was much more valuable in terms of the content and learning opportunities. Best of luck to your son! go with the JSA


Girls Leadership Institute

Jan 2012

Hello, We are thinking of sending our seventh grade daughter to summer camp with the Girl's Leadership Institute. If you have experience with this camp we are wondering: 1) how was the camp overall 2) what did your daughter gain from this camp 3) have you seen a long lasting change in her 4) How did the staff handle home sickness 5) what kinds of girls are drawn to this camp 6) had you found a possible alternative, if so what was it, when you looked at camps for your daughter that caused you to choose gli over that camp. Thanks so much Leah


My niece went to the Girls Leadership Inst program last summer at Smith College. She is shy, and her parents thought it would be good for her. She liked it, but I don't think it was life-changing for her. I don't know much more, it seemed fine, but not amazing. anon

Junior Statesmen of America experience?

Nov 2011

Wondering whether any BPN families have any direct experience with the Junior Statesmen of America program in general, and more specifically, with the summer residence programs on the East Coast. Our 16-year-old son is very interested in political science, government, law and diplomacy, and I'm impressed with the program as described on the website. Would a liberal kid from Berkeley find a place in this group? Is there a comparable program out there that we should pursue for next summer that would better serve his interests? Any feedback on JSA and/or other like programs would be much appreciated. Mom of future public servant


I have a young friend (I consider her a virtual daughter), now a junior at Stanford, who was very involved in JSA while in high school. She helped organize their regional meetings and attended their summer program at Georgetown. She loved JSA, loved the Georgetown program, and developed both a deeper appreciation of the politican system and terrific leadership skills. It sounds like a great match for your son. Mom of big guys (and virtual mom of some girls)
Junior Statesmen of America is a wonderful organization. I was a chapter president when I was in high school and learned a tremendous amount. I attended a summer program at UC Davis, which was fantastic. I'm sure the summer program in DC would be great as well. You asked if a liberal Berkeley kid would fit in socially... JSA is comprised of kids with a full-spectrum of political perspectives. For teens, it's a great learning opportunity to find out that you may like a person as an individual, even if you have different political views. Another program, which is similar to JSA, is the YMCA's Youth & Government, which my daughter is involved in. One of the differences between the two programs is that JSA [at least when I was a student] was more student-run than Y&G. In JSA we planned every aspect of the program including all of the conferences, from the conference content to arranging hotels and transportation. JSA offered tremendous leadership opportunities. Kids do a lot in terms of running Y&G as well, but the program does have a young adult staff [who are great role models, by the way]. I endorse both programs. Through her involvement in Y&G I have seen my daughter become more mature, politically aware and interested in public service. These are the types of programs teens should be encouraged to join! fan of JSA & Y&G

National Young Leaders State Conference?

July 2006

Has anyone sent their 8th or 9th grader to the National Young Leaders State Conference? My child received a nomination and I want to know if this is worth attending. It is a 4 day conference in San Jose for nominated students that costs $1325 offered this Fall and winter. thanks for your help. looking for advice


My daughter went to NYLC a couple of years ago and did not find it that valuable, tho she met some great kids there that have become fast friends. We were all caught up in the idea that she was ''nominated'' but it really is a good marketing strategy targeted to kids with decent academics. Our daughter thought the info was too basic and that the ''prestiguous'' speakers promised were not necessarily notables and not so inspiring. Overall, not a horrible expereience but not worth the money either. olivella
This doesn't directly answer your question, but my 16 year old son just came back from a 10 day session for the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. He went because two students that had been there before him raved about it, one even said it was the best week of his life! My son came back tonight and also seems very pleased with it. He returned with no complaints(!) and only spoke highly of his experiences. He seems to have learned about the national government and D.C. in general, and has made many friends around the country. I don't think they ever had a chance to get bored as they kept a very busy schedule. How this translates to the younger age group or to the state program, I don't know. I just had to weigh in on the associated program. It really has a lot to offer. New Fan of NYLC

Invitation from National Young Leaders Conference

July 2004

My daughter received an invitation by mail to the National Young Leaders Conference. Does anyone know what this is and whether it is worthwhile? It lists a number of people in Congress on its board, but I don't know whether that means anything or not. Thanks


My son recently received a solicitation from a similar sounding organization, ''National Youth Leadership Conference.'' This mailing also looked very impressive, with numerous national political leaders listed as board members/speakers for the group. It looked fairly legitimate on its website, and so I checked with my son's school's college advisor. She told me that yes, in fact it's a very legitimate, well-thought of program, but because of its expense, kids shouldn't do it just to bolster their college resumes -- i.e. lower income kids have much less access, and college admissions officers are fully aware of the costs associated with the program (many kids are ''nominated'' for invitations by way of high PSAT scores). So it could be a good experience for your daughter, assuming that the program suits her. I'd check with a college advisor to get more details on this particular program. Wary of programs that look too good to be true
My daughter just went to Washington DC for an international politics session and absolutely loved it. This was despite the fact that she got bronchitis and was very sick toward the end. It was definitely expensive and the mixture of students there reflected that , including some that were very vocally conservative. These were very strange creatures for a Berkeley High student to meet, but it made the debates lively. Overall, I think the camp was worth it because my daughter was so committed and put a lot of time into preparation beforehand, also it was well-run and fun.
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