Is your teen looking to get involved in politics and government? A great way to start is by checking out HSLDA’s Generation Joshua, a program dedicated to teen leadership. This week on Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Smith speaks with several teens about how Generation Joshua has inspired and equipped them to make a difference.
Mike Smith: This week we’re featuring several students from our Generation Joshua program, and my first guest is Gabe Johnson. He’s an 18-year-old high school senior, and he served as president during one of GenJ’s iGovern summer camps. Gabe, it’s great to have you with us today.
Gabe Johnson: Thank you for having me on, Mike, it’s a pleasure.
Mike: Gabe, tell me about what being president for a week was like. What were some of the challenges that you had to face?
Gabe: Well, to say the least, it was challenging to wrestle with an international crisis that could have resulted in endangering thousands of American lives. There was also the issue of collaborating with Congress, the international ambassadors through my secretary of state, and ultimately running for reelection. Being president came with many responsibilities which required me to act, and a lot of those actions were criticized by my peers and political opponents.
Mike: So, even with all that criticism and challenge, was it a good experience for you?
Gabe: Oh, it was absolutely fantastic. You know, iGovern taught me so many wonderful lessons regarding the importance of leadership, integrity, and the like, and, you know, really taught me how to be courageous before that body of students, to stand up and convey a message, but to me the most wonderful part of that experience was the relationships and the friendships that I’ve made.
Mike: Well, Gabe, that’s wonderful, and thanks for joining us today. It sounds like you had a great opportunity to learn about politics and governing hands-on.
Mike Smith: Aaron Tackett is with us today, and he can’t seem to get enough of being a member of Generation Joshua. Aaron, it’s good to have you with us today.
Aaron Tackett: Good to be on here.
Mike: Aaron, you attended two GenJ iGovern camps over the same summer in 2013. Now that’s a little bit unusual. Why did you decide to do two in one year?
Aaron: Well, at first I was going to attend just iGovern East, being my first year, but it was such a great experience after I went that I decided I wanted to do it again.
Mike: Let me ask you this: what was so good about the first one that made you want to do the second one?
Aaron: It was just really surprising for me. I didn’t expect the program to be as good as it was and teach me as much, and so I just wanted to see what else I could learn.
Mike: What were a couple of things that they taught you that were really important to you?
Aaron: Some of the things like parliamentary procedure and basic things on how the government works.
Mike: What about relationships, did you make good contacts there with the other young people?
Aaron: Yeah, I’ve got friends all over the country now because of the camps.
Mike: Well, that’s wonderful. Well, Aaron, thanks for being with us today, and I’m so pleased that you had a great time with the Generation Joshua camps.
Mike Smith: Today I’m joined by Noah Wills, who is a high school sophomore and a Generation Joshua member. Welcome to the program, Noah!
Noah Wills: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be with you.
Mike: Well, Noah, can you tell us about some of your experiences with Generation Joshua?
Noah: Well, the two main things I’ve done with GenJ are attending their iGovern leadership camp and campaigning on a student action team during the Virginia gubernatorial election last November, and they taught me a lot and just showed me how I can make a difference.
Mike: Well, tell us a little bit more about that. How did these experiences with GenJ and these student action teams help you become involved with your community?
Noah: I’d say the biggest thing is they gave me connections to know people that can help me get connected and that are willing to work with me to help me learn how to get involved in my community.
Mike: So, what student action teams have you worked on?
Noah: Just the Virginia gubernatorial race.
Mike: You looking forward to doing some more?
Mike: What was the greatest thing you learned from that student action team?
Noah: Probably just how much I can make a difference, and, you know, that it takes a lot to campaign but it pays off.
Mike: Well, Noah, it’s tremendous to know how you’ve had a chance to take what you’ve learned and apply it at home, and I know you’ll continue to make a positive difference in your community.
Mike Smith: This week we’ve been sharing the experiences of some of our Generation Joshua members. And today, Molly Kluck, a 16-year-old GenJer, joins me on the program. Welcome, Molly!
Molly Kluck: Thank you for having me!
Mike: Molly, you’ve been volunteering for campaigns—that’s political campaigns—since 2008, is that right?
Molly: Yes, sir.
Mike: Well, tell us how you got started.
Molly: I got started when my mom pulled me into the 2008 presidential campaign, and we did a lot of sign waving and door knocking and since then, she started getting involved with state local races and she pulled me in as well, and I became fascinated with the whole entire process.
Mike: Well, let me ask you this then: as part of that process, did you really feel like you were making a difference, in other words, an impact on the election?
Molly: I felt I did at the local level. It was interesting to get out and talk to people about what I believed, and people tend to listen to you more when you’re a kid. They don’t tend to shut the door on your face or tell you to stop talking. So I do feel like I did.
Mike: Well how did you learn what to say?
Molly: My mom taught me. She’s very big on teaching me what she feels is right, and I feel that that is right as well, so it’s what I learned to talk about. I talked about the freedom and liberty movement, and I talked about that with people.
Mike: So you agreed with your mom?
Molly: I do.
Mike: Molly, how do you feel your experience with Generation Joshua has helped you understand how politics actually work?
Molly: Wow, going through the SATs and seeing how the volunteer movement really makes an impact on the election and changes the scores; that was amazing. And then they have a special program called iGovern, where I learned the ins and outs of how legislation gets passed through Congress, and lobbying, and that helps me so much with my understanding of politics and how to lead.
Mike: Molly, what does SAT stand for?
Molly: Student Action Team.
Mike: And that’s your political involvement with Genj?
Mike: Now, what are some future plans after you graduate from high school?
Molly: Ever since getting on the student action teams, I’ve been fascinated with volunteer coordination, and I would love to do that all across the states. I want to get people out there and talking to people and knocking on doors and making phone calls, and I want make it more efficient, yet still personal. I mean, there’s so much I want to do with that, but that’s where I feel like I’m being drawn to.
Mike: Now, how do you think you’ll be able to do that? What kind of organization would you work with to do that?
Molly: I would love to start out with Generation Joshua, if they’d have me, of course, because they also mentor kids and help raise them up right, and I’m interested in doing that as well.
Mike: Well, Molly, speaking on behalf of Generation Joshua, I hope that happens! And I think that if your past work is any indication, you’ll definitely find success meeting your future goals. And thank you again for being with us. Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.