Youth Tour began over 25 years ago as a means of introducing rural high school students who lived on electric co-op lines to “the cooperative difference”. Today, it serves the same purpose. It sends students to the heart of our nation in Washington, D.C., where they experience travel and interaction opportunities with other teens from all over the country. Students also learn co-op history and principles, get an introduction to our nation’s political process, and realize leadership opportunities.
This year, six students whose parents are co-op members were selected by GLE to attend Youth Tour June 15-20. Two of those students—Delaney Bryce, of Pentwater, and Adam Paga, of Boyne City, offered their insights on the trip.
2019 GLE Youth Tour Students
(front row, left to right) Alexandria Alma, Grayling; Hannah Spencer, South Boardman; Delaney Bryce, Pentwater; (back row) Adam Paga, Boyne City; Jäeger Griswold, Central Lake; Pierce Newell, Rothbury.
Traveling To and From
Students from Michigan electric cooperatives traveled by bus to Washington, D.C., with a stop along the way at Gettysburg. Adam described the bus trip with 17 fellow students as fun and significant in allowing them to meet and familiarize themselves with each other before reaching Washington.
“By the end of our first stop at Gettysburg, we had inside jokes and really felt like friends,” reported Delaney.
Before the flight back to Michigan June 20, lifelong friendships had been forged.
Experiencing Our Nation’s Capital
Adam expressed surprise at the proximity of various memorials and famous sites. “I was shocked to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the National Mall at the same time! Seeing them firsthand was much different than viewing photos of them.”
Delaney appreciated the chance to see the musical, “Hello, Dolly,” while in Washington. “It’s something I’d have never gotten to do if it weren’t for Youth Tour,” she observed.
Delaney took inspiration from learning about Clara Barton, the American nurse who founded the
American Red Cross. “It made me more determined than ever to go into a career of helping others,” she said.
Adam remarked on the opportunity to meet Michigan legislators during the students’ visit to Capitol Hill.
“Meeting and speaking to our representatives showed me that they are people just like me who only want what’s best for the nation. It gave me a feeling of connection and showed me that my voice really is heard and matters,” he noted.
Both students referred to Youth Tour as an important milestone in their education and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Adam remarked, “Youth Tour changed me in a positive way.” He added that seeing some of the memorials to those who had sacrificed all for their country “made me very proud to be an American.”
Next Up: Youth Tour 2020
Applications for next year’s Youth Tour open in December. To be eligible to apply, a high school sophomore or junior must live with a parent or guardian whose residence is on GLE lines. Visit cooperativeyouthtour.com for complete information and apply by Feb. 29, 2020.
Adam advised, “Be ready for an adventure you’ll remember all your life!”