Last summer a went to a student conference for Intelligence and National Security in Washington DC through the National Student Leadership Conference. This is a program for teens entering junior or senior year the following fall. I went the summer before my junior year and while most of the students were a year older then me it was one of the best experiences I've had.
The National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) has been around for over 20 years and offers students experience on a college campus, leadership skills, information on a chosen topic, and time to explore the area around you. I experienced all that plus fun and friendship which made it all the better.
Every NSLC event occurs on a college campus. I stayed at American University in Washington DC. Our food was provided by the college so we got real experience with dorm food, it wasn't too bad. We were also given a schedule and allowed to wonder around the campus as we pleased, as long as we were at the right activities at the right time. This allowed me to explore the campus and play a game of soccer with some of the boys during my visit. This time at AU has helped me decide what I want in a college campus, like large dorm rooms!
Every night, after dinner we would all gather in a lecture hall to learn about leadership. What it means to be a leader, different personality types, and how to work together. These lectures really turned us from about 100 individual teenagers into one cohesive unit that could work together. If there is one thing this conference taught me it was how to work together on a common goal. That has to be a helpful quality!
I went to the NSLC event for intelligence and national security where the main focus was on the US Government's National Security Council. We even had a mock council. They separated all of the students into different teams and assigned them different roles (I was the Director of Intelligence) with one college student as the president. We were then informed of a Security Crisis and chose how to fix it. I have to gloat that my group kicked some serious butt! Our president never walked out on us in anger, no fictional citizens died, and we did not go to war with Iraq. Couldn't have been better. I don't know what happens at other conferences but I had a great time learning about national security.
Another amazing attribute of this program is the to see the sights. During my stay in DC, the program took us to all the monuments, the Smithsonian, Arlington, The National Mall, International Spy Museum, the CIA, the Pentagon, and to a ropes climbing course. So many amazing opportunities. I loved each of these trips away from the university campus. We saw all the national monuments in the dark which I thought made them more powerful. We were allowed to wonder around most of these stops on our own which allowed for even more friendship building. The most amazing trip was to the CIA. I still can't believe that I've been there.
Sorry for the long post guys but I really wanted to illustrate all the great things that happened to me through this program. If you're high school aged and receive a letter in the mail from NSCL, I highly suggest taking this opportunity if you can!