Youth & Government

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Youth & Government (Y&G) is an experiential learning program for high school students. By modeling California’s legislature and courts, participants have the opportunity to build skills such as critical thinking, persuasive speech and writing, project management, and collaboration. Our program is rooted in the YMCA’s core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility, and believes in the importance of servant leadership and media literacy to a healthy democracy.

Our goal is to grow the next generation of civically engaged Californians. Civically engaged Californians recognize the importance of:

  • Civic Knowledge: They understand the structure and function of government.
  • Civic Awareness: They can identify the major issues facing their communities.
  • Civic Action: They are equipped with the tools they’ll need to make change in their community.

The program is offered through the collaborative effort of 6 Northern California YMCA Associations. Participants meet weekly with their local delegations and roughly once per month as a collective group from September through March.

Conference Dates

Camp Roberts
November 9-12, 2023

MLC Sacramento Conference
February 16-19, 2024

Fees: TBD – Financial Assistance is available!

Professional Clothing Drive!

Benefits the Sonoma County Family YMCA Youth & Government program!

Donations accepted January 2 - 31.

The Sonoma Youth & Government delegation is heading to Sacramento in February for the Annual Model Legislature and Court Conference.
The delegates are required to wear professional business attire, "Sac Attire". The YMCA would like to help ease the financial burden to our familyies by offering a closet of donated items the teens can shop from.

Our participants are high school male and female students.

Clothing items needed:

  • Suit jackets/blazers
  • Dress pants/skirts
  • Blouses/button up shirts
  • Ties
  • Belts

Donations may be dropped off at the main YMCA Member Center.

Model United Nations

Northern California YMCA Model United Nations is a program for middle school students designed to promote engagement with, and understanding of, their world. The program relies on an experience-based model, where participants learn by doing - collaboratively developing solutions to real world issues and presenting them to their peers and international experts. Over the course of the program participants will learn the history and purpose of the UN, improve their grasp of world geography, discuss and debate major international issues, and gain an appreciation for multiple world cultures.

Conference Dates: TBD
Cultural Events: TBD 
Program Cost: TBD – Financial Assistance is available

Contact Information:

Crystal Sowards
Youth Development Director
707-545-9622 ext. 3313 


Youth & Government group photo #1"Going into Youth and Government I had no idea what to expect and honestly would have never expected it to be as amazing as it was. I was surprised to find myself fully invested in such a program that provided me with the opportunity to learn about government and leadership, to make supportive friends, to gain confidence, and ultimately grow.

Upon joining I learned we would be having weekly meetings and attending several training camps in preparation for Sacramento, where youth from all across the state would flood the state capital in order to model our own state government. The first couple meetings were confusing, as none of us had any idea what we were doing, but as the weeks passed I found myself among everyone else in our delegation to be genuinely excited and enthusiastic about the program. Everyone was eager to speak their mind and contribute their ideas into our collaborative process of writing our bill to bring to Sacramento. I too soon found myself amidst debates on legislation alongside my peers.

Finally, in Sacramento, I found a welcoming, supportive environment with thousands of youth just like me, ready to share the Y&G experience. I began to realize that these peers surrounding me were not simply just high school students, but the future of our democracy. Y&G helps the youth create a vision of hope for the future while teaching us the tools we need to make our dream a reality. Y&G has changed my life, along with the future of California’s State Government. And honestly, I can’t wait to do it again next year."

- Zoë Allred, Press Corps

"In a nutshell, Youth and Government is the most highly concentrated group of intelligent individuals you will ever come across. I'm not talking about the straight-A's kind of smart, not that we don't have that, its the passionate, motivated people who possess a will to do good for the world and to make a difference. You will become one of these people, a leader of the future. Regardless if you enjoy the program or not, I guarantee that it will inspire you.

Youth & Government group photo #2

Now, to what I actually did. This last year I was a member of the International Affairs Commission or the IAC for short. The purpose of the program is to collaboratively come up with solutions to global conflicts or problems. I was apart of the IAC's first year in Y&G, a program of about 100 people. The program is split into 3 different issue tracks, specific areas of research where you investigate in. This last year the issue tracks were terrorism, climate change, and drug trafficking. I was in a group of 3 other( total of 4) tasked with solving terrorism. There were 6 other terrorist groups, only 3 of which could pass on to the final round to be voted on by the general assembly(everyone). My group's plan almost made it but was a couple votes short.
I recommend the IAC to anyone interested in an international perspective, it was really fun and engaging."

-Bryant Hill, International Affairs Commission

Youth and Government group photo 2When I joined this program in seventh grade, I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. Model Legislature and Court (MLC), also called Youth in Government (Y&G) is a statewide program where high school students from all over California come together to model state government. We pass bills, rewrite the constitution, lobby and elect a Youth Governor. Along the way we learn debate skills, public speaking, and how the government works. One of my personal favorite parts of MLC is the people who do the program. They are so passionate about change through their activism, which includes organizing peaceful protests and lobbying the state government. They’re kind, intelligent, and inspiring, and I leave every conference exhausted but motivated and very excited for the next one because of them. The kids that do Y&G are the same ones that remind me that the future won’t be too bad if they’re leading it. If you are at all interested in government, changing the world, or a fun time, please consider joining Y&G. It will leave you not only with new knowledge and political insight, but lifelong friendships and memories as well. I love this program, and I know that you will too.

- Derika B., 2021

There is never a dull moment in Youth and Government. Whether it was a meeting or a conference, my interest and enthusiasm persisted throughout the entirety of the program. Joining Youth and Government was one of the best decisions I have ever made because it allowed me to flourish and become a better version of myself. Even though the program was daunting at first it quickly became an activity that I eagerly looked forward to attending every week. Youth and Government offered me an opportunity to grow ideologically and also allowed me to meet a diverse array of teenagers from across California who I continued to be close with following the end of the program.

Even teenagers who are not completely fascinated with the government partake in this program, because it not only teaches you about the government, but it also teaches you how to be an effective leader, grow a strong sense of self-confidence, debate ideas, and create lasting bonds with others. It is a program that allows a person to directly voice their opinions, develop team-building skills, and learn about the democracy that we live within all while having fun in the process. 

Although it can get serious at times, Youth and Government is a program dedicated to giving every teenager a platform and along with that comes some of the most hilarious moments that I have experienced in my high school years. No matter what you are interested in, I can guarantee that there is a group, activity, or project that awaits you in Youth and Government. So, take that leap and come discover what Youth and Government can offer you.

- Cameron H., 2020 Board of Education and National Issues Commission

Informational Meet and Greet.- Sunday August 28, 2022 TENTATIVE

Informational Meet and Greet- Monday Sept. 12, 2022 TENTATIVE

1st Delegation Meeting-Week of Sept. 19, 2022

75th Model Legislature & Court

November Training Conference: Friday, November 11
Monday, November 14 at Camp Roberts, San Miguel, CA

January Program Area Workshops

Saturday, January 21. All program areas will host virtual check-in sessions with their delegates. Times TBD.
Some program areas may choose to include additional check-ins between the conferences.

February Final Model Legislature & Court Conference

Friday, February 10 - Monday, February 13 at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, Sacramento, CA