By Nicholas Barden
Patrick Henry College
A group of iGovern students does some informal politicking between sessions on the steps of PHC's Barbara Hodel Student Life Center.
It was a full-blown simulation of Capitol Hill, part of Generation Joshua's iGovern Summer Leadership Program, this year the largest summer camp ever held at Patrick Henry College.
"iGovern is a unique program," Camp Director Joel Grewe said. "There is no other program in America that offers the unique blend of hands-on leadership experience, Biblical worldview and personal interactions with Christians in politics."
Generation Joshua is a nationwide youth organization of more than 7,500 members, founded in 2003. Its purpose is to cultivate a generation of Christian leaders and citizens capable of actively engaging in their government and communities
"We're not interested in training more political operators," Grewe said. "What I want are Christians who are serious about their faith and engaged in the political process."
This year’s camp featured a virtual Congress, following the unique parliamentary rules of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Senators and representatives authored bills during a legislative drafting session, passed them through committee and debated them on the house floor. In addition to legislating, students participated in a mock presidential election, engaged with lobbyists to fund-raise for staffing costs and campaign funds, and learned how to interact with the media.
The camp also featured a number of classes that students could attend. Classes taught topics including party leadership, campaigns and elections, legislation drafting and policy advocacy. Students were encouraged to apply what they learned to the Congressional simulation.
"One young lady said to me after my party leadership class, 'Mr. Grewe, I did what you told me and it works! I'm the chair of my committee,'" Grewe said.
"The whole point of camp is to teach and equip them to apply these principles in the real world," Generation Joshua Director Will Estrada said.
The camp also featured a field trip into Washington, D.C., where students heard from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). While touring D.C., students had the opportunity to have their picture taken with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
"He told us, 'there's a price for this picture. It means the next time you see a soldier, a real soldier, not one with stars on his shoulder, you need to shake their hand, give them a hug, and tell them that General Dempsey said hi,'" Grewe recalled.
Amidst all the lobbying, politics and lawmaking, Generation Joshua worked to keep the focus on serving Christ in the political realm. The camp featured daily chapel services, with worship and messages from the staff, as well as nightly chapels in the dormitory wings.
At the end of the day, Generation Joshua wants its students to become active Christians and engaged citizens.
"Most importantly, lives were changed and young people were challenged to make a difference in their own lives and in their country," Estrada said.
Generation Joshua will be offering another iGovern Summer Leadership Program this year in Colorado Springs, Co., from August 14-20. Visit the GenJ website for more information.