Tuesday, June 11, 2013

iGovern East Recap (Part 1)

The Generation Joshua office just finished up our first iGovern Camp this year and it was incredible. We asked our staff to share their thoughts and reflections on iGovern East, and will be posting them on the blog over the next few days.

Jessalyn Toplikar 
Counselor, Secretary of the FRONTIER Summit

My favorite part of iGovern East was the FRONTIER Summit, which is similar to the United Nations.  As the secretary, I was able to be a part of all the proceedings.  The kids in the Summit were amazing and did an awesome job playing their countries.  They made me (and each other) crazy at times, but when they knew they needed to get something done, they would work their hardest to do it, even if it meant using their free time.  Though I’m a counselor, I learn so much at these camps.  The kids really love and support each other.  They work to include everyone in spite of differences and show Christ’s love in their interactions.  I feel so blessed to be a part of these camps. 

Rachel Heffington
Counselor, Secretary of the House of Representatives

Rachel (L) and Josie (R)
Few adults can face the intense pressure of government positions and emerge with all faculties intact and world-sized problems solved. Most don’t even try.

As a counselor at iGovern East, I got to live and work among 130 kids who are breaking stereotypes. These kids were dedicated, tenacious, and unafraid of standing on sometimes unpopular convictions. When faced with the bewildering and unheard-of issues we threw at them, they flinched, but stood firm and applied every bit of energy and brainpower to overcome the obstacles.

I love watching the drama of the camp scenario grow, explode and be handled with (in some cases) truly sacrificial love. But the best times were when the scenario was laid aside and we came together to worship as one huge, diverse, awesome family. I can honestly say that Generation Joshua contains the best of America’s future leaders.

Nick Barden
Counselor, Teacher, Gold Party Hack, Speaker of the House

Glenn (L) and Nick (R)
As Speaker of the House, I had a blast watching students debate all sorts of wacky legislation, from the “give lifeguards shaving kits” bill to “the Nick Barden Galaxy Bill,” a brilliant proposal to give yours truly his own galaxy (Note: I was in no way the instigator of this beautiful piece of legislation). But more importantly, I had the opportunity to watch students stand on principle. I got to call on my own little sister in the House of Representatives, asking if she wished to speak on behalf of her bill ramp up efforts to stop human trafficking. I got to watch some of the more well-known political figures of the camp stand on principle as they waded through the ethical conundrums of abortion in the case of rape, incest, and risk to the life or health of the mother.

As the Gold Party hack, I watched students build massive coalitions, with effective lobbying machines, on topics such as the ethics of using drones in surveillance operations, reforming the Federal Reserve, the Minor Currency Reform Act (or Anti-Penny Act), and National Oreo Day. I watched students face corrupt lobbyists with large sums of money, at times standing on principle, other times having to face the repercussions later (one such incident resulted in a large, public donation to a charitable organization), but in both cases, learning what it means to conduct politics above reproach.

As a teacher, I watched students grapple with topics that even most college students wouldn’t be talking about. I watched students seize on tenets of conservative political theory and incorporate them into stump speeches and presidential debates.

As a counselor, I watched as students worshiped and dug into God’s word, built friendships, prayed for each other (one night for about 3 hours straight), and grew together as men of God. You’ll have to ask my sister about the ladies.

I’ve never been part of a camp that so intensely blends together theory, principle, practice, and Christian living all in one place. When you get down to it, iGovern’s not really about politics. It’s not even really about government. It’s about laying foundations. It’s about learning what it means to be men and women of God in all aspects of life. It’s about equipping students to take the light of Christ wherever they’re called, whether their nation, state, community, family, friends, school, team, debate league, or whatever other situation they may find themselves in.

We want to hear from you. For those of you who have been to iGovern, either this year or before, leave a comment letting us know about your favorite part of iGovern.

All photos courtesy of Daniel Tate @ Watchman Cinema.

Campers at the iGovern Gala


  1. Oh how I miss camp! I think my favorite part of camp this year was having the opportunity to cry and pray with other believers. It was amazing how everyone was so encouraging and loving. I've never been to a camp where you can randomly go up to a counselor and ask them to pray for you right then. I also really appreciated how the leaders/staff/counselors actually wanted to know people on a personal level.Camp challenged me to build a stronger Christian foundation in my life. I've meet most of my closest friends at camp, y'all are such a blessing! Keep doing what you're doing, its amazing to watch God work through genj. oi #GoOrange

  2. My Favorite part of iGovern:

    Hard to narrow it down, really. My brother and I had the wonderful blessing last year to go to iGovern West- and whenever I tell somebody about it, I always say "Go- it changed my life." And no, I'm not exaggerating. It was wonderful to be around a bunch of well behaving young people. It was great to be at a camp where I was a "camper", yet treated like an adult. It was amazing to have each and every leader/counselor point everything to God. It was a blessing to talk with people who honestly cared about me, even though they didn't know I existed a couple of days before.
    I came away from the week at camp with a renewed spirit. In part by having the chance to be encouraged, both on a personal and group level, by the leaders. In part of seeing a new generation, my generation, of young adults rise up and learn to carry the torch of faith on in the political realm.

    I thank God that I had the opportunity to go to camp. I so wish I could go back this year, but the Lord didn't lead me there.

    GenJ- please keep doing what you are doing. Camp is amazing, GenJ as an organization is amazing. May the Lord continue to bless all your efforts- just keep giving Him all the praise.

    God bless,