75th Youth Legislature Session Recap
Last updated: November 23, 2022, at 10:03 a.m. PT
Originally published: November 9, 2022, at 6:49 a.m. PT
As Washington YMCA Youth & Government began planning for the 75th Youth Legislature Session there were several unknowns and challenges ahead of this milestone. With new variants of Covid-19 taking hold across the state, the Youth & Government state office stayed steadfast and determined to host an in-person event for youth participants.
At times, the 75th Youth Legislature session seemed doomed by the ups and downs of the pandemic, but we persevered and accomplished the unthinkable by hosting over 250 youth and adult volunteers in person in Olympia. We juggled ideas from a closed campus, to fully masked, to going virtual again for the third year in a row. Luckily, with the Covid-19 data leaning in our favor by April, we were able to allow visitors and only required that participants where mask when indoors.
High school delegations from the across the state spent four days proponing their bills in committee and in their respective chambers. Our 8th grade program met for three days coming from the classroom to the Capitol. Most of the events were hosted by the generosity of South Puget Sound Community College. Although access to the Capitol buildings were limited, we were able to tour the Legislative Building and see the Senate and House Chambers.
The Pull of Youth & Government
By Jaxon Harpel, an 8th grade participant perspective as highlighted in the Capitol Chronicles (youth-led newspaper of Youth Legislature).
Even if you didn’t want to be here in Olympia, I’m sure you’re glad you didn’t decide against coming here. Sure, at first a nice weekend at home probably outweighed the anxiety-ridden weekend of Youth & Government (YAG). To that, I agree, or at least would have just a few days ago. I loved debating in class with my fellow peers about world issues. I loved talking, listening, and chatting about current problems with others. But, I wouldn’t be with just my friends and classmates here, I’d have to talk to three other schools worth of people, and even people in grades higher than me.
Though these problems shot through my head as I went to school Thursday morning, they have all been relieved over the course of just 36 hours. YAG has pulled me in and brought so much more to me then a class I joined the beginning of this year. The real desire that YAG offers is an official government environment, but I feel that it’s so much more than that.
Whether it’s your first time away from your parents, or it’s all been a hilarious hangout with your friends, I feel as if I was brought so much more then I would ever think to receive from a class I signed up for. I type away before, presumably, heading over to the Gov Ball, growing slightly scared as it approaches, though I absolutely know I will have fun there. I’m hoping everyone else does as well.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my, now seemingly very quick, trip to my state’s capitol where I have had an absolute blast with friends, strangers, and teachers alike. I hope to see faces return next year where I will almost certainly be returning to do this again.