What is Youth in Government?

Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government programs are organized throughout the state to serve middle school and high school students. There are several components that make up Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government, including: Model Assembly Session, Model United Nations, YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs, and Retreats and Training Sessions. Students can participate in one or more program offerings and register through their local YMCA or school delegations. Find out more about YIG Programs.

How does a student get involved with Youth in Government?

Students participate in Model Assembly and Model United Nations through local clubs or groups called “delegations.” Delegations are operated by local YMCAs, schools or community organizations. Contact the Youth in Government staff for the current list of delegations and the local contact people, or check out our delegation map. To participate in the Youth Conference on State Issues, the Conference on National Affairs, and the National Judicial Competition, students do not work in delegations. For more information, please contact the Youth in Government State Office.

How old do I have to be to take part in Youth in Government?

The Model Assembly Session serves students in grades 8 through 12. The Model United Nations serves students in grades 7 through 12. Contact the Youth in Government staff for information on age requirements for the Youth Conference on State Issues, the Conference on National Affairs, and the National Judicial Competition.

How can I start a Youth in Government delegation at my school?

Start by talking with YMCA leaders, school administrators and teachers in your community or school and let them know of your interest. Then contact the Youth in Government State Office for assistance. We have many tools available to help YMCA and school leaders understand Youth in Government and the benefits hosting the program can bring to a local community.

When do Youth in Government programs happen?

Model Assembly registration happens right after school starts in September at the local delegation level. The Model Assembly Session takes place in early January each year.

Model United Nations registration begins in January at the local delegation level. The Model United Nations takes place in mid-March each year.

National Affairs registration is open for a window after the Model Assembly and for a second window after the Model United Nations. The 12-day conference usually begins in the last few days of June and ends with return to Minnesota in early July.

National Judicial Competition  registration is open for a window after the Model Assembly and for a second window after the Model United Nations. The conference is held at the end of July in Chicago.

Why should I sign up for Youth in Government?

Minnesota is among the top programs nationally in terms of quality and number of students involved. 60% of participants and 55% of youth program leaders are girls. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of all eligible students return the next year. Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government builds a sense of responsibility and passion for issues, the desire to make a difference, citizenship skills and values in the lives of teens.

Where are Youth in Government programs held?

Local delegation meetings take place in local YMCA facilities, schools, community buildings and other spaces. Activities at the local level are scheduled and run by the local delegation, so each group meets in spaces convenient to its members.

The Model Assembly Session utilizes the space of many premiere public buildings including: Minneapolis Hilton, State Capitol, State Office Building, Minnesota Judicial Center, and the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

The Model United Nations takes place at the Marriot Hotel in Downtown Minneapolis.

The Youth Conference on State Issues takes place in either downtown St. Paul, at Towne Square, or downtown Minneapolis, at the Minneapolis Hilton.

The Youth Conference on National Affairs is conducted at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The Minnesota delegation travels through different cities each year on the way home from the conference. Past tours have taken the group to Washington, DC; New York City, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Colonial Williamsburg.

The National Judicial Competition takes place in Chicago at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, with events taking place at the National Bar Association as well as Y of the USA.

Retreats and Training Sessions take place at a variety of YMCA camps, hotels and meeting facilities.

How can I participate in Youth in Government programs?

Each delegate may choose from several program areas. The program area is where students spend their conference.

Model Assembly program areas include: House and Senate; Governor’s Cabinet; Lobbyists; Lawyers; Judges; Reporters for Newspaper, Radio and Television media; 8th grade Leadership Corps; Youth Elected Officers and Youth Appointed Officials.

Model United Nations program areas include: Security Council, International Court of Justice, Economic and Social Council, General Assembly, Human Rights Council and Conference Newspaper.

What if I don’t know anyone else at Youth in Government?

YIG programs provide the opportunity to get to know your fellow delegation members but also students from across Minnesota. Model Assembly brings together 1,600 8th through 12th graders from around the state. The Model United Nations gathers more than 600 7th through 12th graders. Youth in Government programs require students to work with other delegates and meet new people. Nighttime activities allow delegates to hang out with new friends, too. Many delegates enter the first day of their Youth in Government experience without knowing anyone else outside of their own group, yet they leave with fun memories and new friends.

What if I don’t know anything about government?

Youth in Government is not just for students who know all about government. Delegates of all backgrounds and levels of experience can achieve success in YIG programs. After your weekend in Youth in Government, you will have a greater understanding of state, local, national and international governments.

Are Youth in Government programs partisan?

Youth in Government is not a partisan program and does not encourage political party activity at its assemblies. The mission of Minnesota Youth in Government is to develop personal growth and encourage life-long, responsible citizenship. Adherence to partisanship gets in the way of these goals. That is not to say that participants don’t have or share partisan opinions. Students share their views on issues and politics as they wish, but not as a formal part of the programs.

How are adults involved?

Although the actual Youth in Government conferences are conducted almost entirely by students, it is the preparation and coordination done by the YMCA professionals, adult program specialist, Delegation Directors, and adult volunteers that make the program possible.

Adults fill the role of state board members, state office staff members, delegation directors and advisors, program specialists and resource advisors. The State Office requires that each delegation have at least one certified Delegation Director, as well as maintain a youth-adult advisor ratio of 1:10.

What is the cost? Are there fund raising opportunities or scholarships?

Costs of participation vary by delegation. Contact your local Delegation Director for the program tuition for your area. Program tuition covers the costs of program lodging, evening activities, security, program supplies and materials, publications, meeting space rental, transportation, advisor expenses and YIG staff costs. It does not cover the costs of food during the conferences, transportation to the statewide events or local delegation expenses.

Financial Assistance is available from the Youth in Government State Office. There may also be scholarships available from the local delegation if a student needs additional financial help to participate in Youth in Government programs. Financial Assistance application forms are available on the YIG website or from the local Delegation Director. All applicants will be asked to pay a meaningful portion of the program tuition.

The YMCA does not turn away participants based on ability to pay the full tuition. Within our available resources, every effort will be made to accommodate all who wish to participate in YMCA Youth in Government programs.

Fund-raising opportunities may be available with the local delegation. The success of any fund-raising effort hinges on starting early – please contact the local Delegation Director ASAP for more information.

What extra expenses will I have during the Conferences?

Extra expenses for YIG programs include money for meals, souvenirs and shopping as they are not included in the program tuition. All meals are on your own. Many delegates bring snacks and breakfast foods for their hotel rooms.

What kinds of evening activities are there?

Previous conference evening activities have included an annual talent show, dances, movies, karaoke, live bands, carnivals and outside trips. The Model Assembly Radio Station and TV station also go on-air in the evenings.

What is the dress code?

Business attire is required at Youth in Government because delegates are attempting to model themselves after real-life leaders and officials in the political arena. Business attire will generally project a sense of professionalism that is expected and accepted not only in the political arena, but also in the business world. The key is to dress as a professional who expects to be taken seriously. If you would like some examples, please see our "Dress Code" episode of Youth in Government and You below:

How do I become an Elected Officer? Appointed Official?

Delegates elect Youth Officers to serve and preside for the next program year. Candidates give speeches and distribute materials to share their platform with fellow delegates. Delegates who want to become Elected Officers must file for office by the posted deadline, which is one of the most important deadlines on the YIG calendar.

Once elected, the Youth Officers select “Appointed Officials” to help carry out the business of the particular program areas. These positions vary from area to area, but include Floor Leaders, Presiding Judges/Justices, media managers, Committee Chairs and many others. Delegates who want to become Appointed Officials must submit a filing form by the end of the statewide conference.