I was lucky enough to attend Running Start’s “Young Women’s Political Retreat” in the summer of 2009. It was definitely a fantastic experience that I am exceedingly grateful for. During the course of those five days, I was able to meet new people, learn new things, and see new places. The retreat incorporated education and fun into the daily activities we were encouraged to participate in. I can say whole-heartedly, that this was an experience like no other, and that I did not experience one dull moment while on the retreat!
One of the things I loved about the Running Start retreat was being around all of the interesting people. Everyone came from different parts of the country, and had their own unique stories. It was exhilarating to be in the presence of a group of girls just like me; all with good morals, positive outlooks, high expectations, and similar goals. Also, as one of the youngest participants (I was only 15 at the time), I believe I was given a unique opportunity to interact with girls older than me. This gave me a greater feel of where I would be in life, in the future.
During the retreat, I was able to improve and attain a variety of skills; one of them having to do with networking. Networking is one of the most fun, but also hardest, things to do. Not only was I forced to improve my networking skills because of the environment I was in, which consisted entirely of people I had never met before, but I was also able to participate in a networking workshop, in which improving this skill was key.
A major theme that was present during the retreat was professionalism. Being on time to activities was strictly enforced, along with dressing appropriately in business attire during tours and interviews. We were encouraged to be outgoing at all times, and introduce ourselves to the many people around us. We also received a lesson on how to conduct ourselves during interviews. This was especially helpful for me. A few weeks after returning from the retreat, my older sister and I were interviewed by a local newspaper about our charity; Tea Party Charitable Foundation. (We founded it five years ago, as a way to give back to the community, by collecting and donating clothing to girls who are less fortunate.) I was able to incorporate the tricks, and tips I learned, and felt much more comfortable, and confident than I had in previous interviews.
Because of my experience with Running Start, I feel I have grown more independent. However, the best part of this program was the exposure to government and politics. I came back from the retreat knowing, that as a female, I can be successful in politics.