A compilation of the videos, blog posts and photos produced by the 2018 YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs media staff.

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Our blog is at ymcaconablog.org

July 5, 2018

Blue Ridge Journal Final Daily Video for July 5, 2018

Dear CONA Video: Blue Ridge Journal staff thanks conference

2018 Plenary photo album

2018 Awards and Closing Ceremonies photo album

July 4, 2018

Blue Ridge Journal Daily video for July 4, 2018: Our show is taken over by ALIENS! Get your latest updates on General Assembly, a day of free time on the mountain (and off), as well as another one of our Delegate Spotlights!

2018 General Assembly photo album

CONA democracy undergoes changes By Beth Walker, NM Third Committee voting changes from ranking each proposal on criteria to ranking all proposals in committee based on which should see priority.

CONA celebrates another Independence Day by Offering Gifts to America By Ashley Hatch, CO, and Gloria Ogunlade, TX | Photo by Amelia Blair, AL

America’s Birthday Gift Video: 2018 CONA delegates tell the Blue Ridge Journal what present they’d like to give to their country.

When decorum deteriorates, division follows By Sarah Jones, DE | Photo by  Amulyah Anken

Former delegate serves country this Fourth of July By Ashley Hatch, CO Eddie Fantauzzo, a Colorado delegate to the Youth Conference on National Affairs, instead of attending the conference enlists in the Navy.

‘Merica photo album

Delegate’s story sparks a special bond in Committee X By Erin Gretzinger, WI

July 3, 2018

Blue Ridge Journal Daily video for July 3, 2018: Seersucker Tuesday, Mascot contest, making the food

P.O. Deen Haleem returns for fifth year By Gloria Ogunlade, TX

Carolinas come together to strengthen each other’s conferences By Sarah Jones, DE | Photo by Caroline Bell, NC

Azia Greenman, delegate spotlight

National Y settles YIG vs. YAG debate By Sarah Jones, DE

Blast from the past causes buzz By Sarah Jones, DE James Jandro from Michigan prefers a typewriter to a laptop | PHOTOS by Brittany Wrzesinski, WA

Holiday Hoopla: Annual dance aims to refresh delegates By Gloria Ogunlade, TX

Delaware shirt wins retweet contest By Ashley Hatch, CO

July 2, 2018

Blue Ridge Journal Daily video for July 2, 2018: Conference photo, Wednesday activity signup, delegation T-shirts, 2nd committees, Mariya Todorova delegate spotlight

P.O. Grace Miller shares her CONA experience By Gloria Ogunlade, TX | Photo by Caroline Bell, NC

Let’s meet P.O. Blake Sloane By Ashley Hatch, CO | Photo by Abbie Skladan, NC

Meet Zoe Bloomfield, 2018 Presiding Officer By Sarah Jones, DE

2018 Committees photo album

Excitement builds as Seersucker Tuesday approaches By Gloria Ogunlade, TX

July 1, 2018

Blue Ridge Journal Daily video for July 1, 2018: Arrival, reception, opening session, BEAR!

P.O. Lainey Newman Delivers Important Message to Delegates By Ashley Hatch, CO | Photo by Abbie Skladan, NC

Will Lowry details CONA and P.O. experience By Ashley Hatch, CO | Photo by Abbie Skladan, NC

DELEGATE SPOTLIGHT: Hardships lead to purpose for Jariah Cole of Texas By Gloria Ogunlade, TX

A coin toss for change Story and photo by Erin Gretzinger, WI

Opening Ceremony photo album

2018 Proposal Sharing Groups photo album

Delegates inspired at Sunday worship By Caroline Bell, NC | Photos by Abbie Skladan, NC

Options abound for CONA Wednesday activities By Delilah Rose, WI




Zzzzzzzzzz…. We all have trouble staying up in Committee; lack of sleep catches up with us, the salt and dairy that consumes the food put us in a food coma, and, let’s be honest, sometimes proposals are hard to get into.IMG_3073

But, students this year have used their creativity to fabricate different versions of bingo, all related to CONA, to pass the time and stay involved.

The game works by creating a Bingo board and filling the squares with common occurs that could happen within committee. Good examples would include when some says they are from the commonwealth of a state, a fellow delegate falling asleep, or when a division is called.

Happy Bingo!!!

–Beth Walker, NM


Photo by Amulyah Anken

This conference is all about sharing ideas  and learning about what makes us different. When we see each other only by the opinions that divide us, we miss out on all that can bring us together. We can’t let our differences separate us, because at its core, this conference is about bringing people together. If we lose sight of that, we risk becoming like our current government, divided, listening only for our own chance to speak rather than understanding.

The four core values of the YMCA; Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility, are the building blocks of decorum and what makes this conference run, when they devolve the conference experience devolves. As the debate within the conference heats up, its noticeable that the decorum of some of the delegates melts away.

When a delegate speaks without any one of the core values, intentional or not, they take away from someone else’s conference experience. Taking time away from someone else’s proposal to speak on one that has already been settled is callous towards the author of the current proposal as well as the audience. When a delegate takes into account the popularity of the author, and not the credibility of the proposal during voting and ranking they’re being fraudulent to themselves and the other delegates in the program. Grandstanding and or filibustering on someone’s proposal is impertinent and rude. A delegate who uses a phone for reasons other than research in chambers is thoughtless to the feelings of the others.

These rules and expectations are set in place so that delegates can enjoy the conference without the fear of being belittling for what they believe.

We must take a stand against callousness and replace it with caring, remove fraudulence with honesty, impertinence with respect and thoughtlessness with responsibility.

Everyone on this Mountain is here for a reason. Whether they were elected, appointed or selected, everyone represents the best of what their state has to offer. It is humbling to be in the presence of so many brilliant minds, it’s a light in the darkness of the our current political climate. It gives hope that tomorrow will be a brighter day than the one before. But the only way to ensure the bright tomorrow we all desperately want, is to fix these issues today.

By Sarah Jones, DE

“We will all … make mistakes. At times, we will feel the intensity of simply being human, of being flawed … but see, those human flaws are really not what’s important. What’s important is that we try. What’s important is that even in imperfection, even in the heat of feeling human; we keep pushing onward. We listen. We learn. With each time we feel imperfect, we grow as individuals, and as leaders. What’s important is that we keep going.”

Lainey Newman, Opening Ceremony

Throughout the week, Presiding Officer Lainey Newman’s continuous message has been: While we are here to achieve greatness, no one is perfect. Lainey started Youth in Government as a freshman and came to the YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs for all four years. She has served her state program in Pennsylvania as Senate Majority Leader, twice as lieutenant governor and once as governor. She made it to Plenary her third year on The Mountain.

Lainey can remember back to when she was a young delegate and watching the P.O.s be so confident and amazing. She still looks up to many of them and is honored to be able to hold this position.

Lainey hopes to provide other delegates with the same incredible experiences she has had. She wants every person who comes to CONA to gain something from the experience, whether it is from chamber or outside of them. She loves being able to hear conversations between people from all over the country that you cannot hear anywhere else.

Copy of Laney Newman by Abbie

Lainey delivers a speech to delegates during opening ceremony. PHOTO by Abbie Skladan

Lainey expresses amazement at the opportunity to serve in this leadership position and stresses once more that the P.O.s are not perfect.

“We’re not perfect, we make mistakes, we mess up Parli-Pro, but its been a blast so far. Hearing the inspiring debate is super rewarding.”

Lainey is majoring in government and minoring in global health and policy at Harvard University. She hopes to go to law school, where she plans to focus her efforts in the area of either labor laws or anti-trust laws. Farther into the future, she wants to work in politics Pennsylvania, where she is currently interning for the governor of Pennsylvania.

By Ashley Hatch, CO


Tuesday, delegates from around the country experienced a new method of voting for Third Committee. Last year, Third Committee entailed ballot voting after each proposal, much like First and Second committee this year.

The new model implemented this year was based on a ranking system. At the end of the day, each proposal author was allotted a 30-second speech to refresh the delegates’ memories of arguments made in debate throughout the day. The delegates then ranked each proposal on a scale of 1 to 20.



Isaac Kim and Ansel Herrera-Garcia

Not all delegates voted “yea” for this policy. Isaac Kim, a delegate from Washington, said many delegates just went through and assigned numbers to the proposals with no regard to merit. Missouri delegate Ansel Herrera-Garcia said the number of proposals that needed to be ranked made ranking each thoughtfully difficult.

Caroline Borja, Maryland

Caroline Borja

On the other hand, Caroline Borja of Maryland, said she was a fan: “I personally liked it because I was able to decide who I wanted to see in General Assembly and Plenary, based on which proposals I thought were interesting. I considered some of the ideas more important or some of the speeches more powerful that I wanted everyone to see, rather than exactly the most feasible or the most original,” she said. Borja did say many were unsure of the guidelines on which the proposals were to be ranked.

In the end, many excellent proposals moved forward to General Assembly and Plenary, where the voting system is pass or fail with delegates standing up to vote either yea or nay for any certain proposal.

By Beth Walker, NM

joey compton carries flag by Amelia

Joey Compton carries American Flag at opening ceremony. PHOTO by Amelia Blair

On this day, 242 years ago, the declaration of independence was signed making America an officially independent nation. As the week of CONA happens to fall on July the Fourth every year, it is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the patriotism each of us feels here on The Mountain. In order to articulate this feeling, we asked delegates what they would give America if she was here in human form.

Answers ranged from tangible items to physical experiences that delegates could gift to America to help celebrate her 242 years of providing citizens with life, liberty, and happiness.

Delegates answers included:

  • A pet eagle
  • A private concert with “the real Queen of America,” Beyonce
  • Liberty and Justice for all
  • A 24 pack of Bomb Pops
  • A tapestry of the Constitution
  • A gift receipt to a spa retreat, for “much-needed” relaxation
  • A big hug
  • Glasses to see clearly
  • A flashlight so she can find her way in the dark
  • A cute kitten because “everyone deserves something warm and fuzzy”
  • The opportunity to be on here The Mountain and just enjoy life

The media team even had the distinct honor of obtaining an answer from a real politician and former delegate, Kenneth Gordon Mullinax, Jr., who has not had the opportunity to come back to The Mountain since he was a P.O. in the year 1977. His answer dove into the political reality of America today and what he believes our country truly needs.

Mr. Mullinax said, “I think America for the Fourth of July needs a big dose of tolerance. We need to be tolerant of our fellow brothers and sisters that live here in this country, as well as those who are visiting. After all, if you’re involved in being religious whatsoever, the Golden Rule is what it’s all around. Tolerance is my gift to America.”

As we celebrate the Fourth of July on this beautiful mountain, consider, what would YOU give America for her birthday?

By Ashley Hatch, CO and Gloria Ogunlade, TX


Eddie and CONA delegates at the 2016 conference. Eddie is third from the left.

Today as we celebrate the Fourth of July, most are filled with a sense of patriotism and thankful for all the freedoms we enjoy each day. Every day there are people fighting to ensure our liberties and freedoms continue.

Many of us come to CONA because of this feeling of patriotism that drives us to try to improve our country. For one delegate that feeling of patriotism went beyond CONA and drove him to join the Navy. Edward (Eddie) Fantauzzo, a Colorado delegate, was supposed to be attending his third CONA conference this year; however, Eddie decided to make the brave leap of enlisting in the Navy. He is unable to attend CONA this year because he is supposed to ship out in early July to begin serving his country.


Eddie with other Colorado YIG officers his junior year (2016). Eddie appears four from the left.

Throughout high school, Eddie participated in three years of Youth in Government and two CONA conferences. At CONA both of Eddie’s proposals dealt with education. The first was about providing a worldview/ world religion classes in schools and the second was about changing the maps we use in schools to teach geography so that they are more accurate for students.

During high school, Eddie participated in programs including speech and debate, Youth in Government, and of course, CONA. Unfortunately, Eddie had to find his own patriotism and forge his own path in the military. His very small high school, Resurrection Christian High School, did not offer any ROTC or military affiliated programs.


Eddie with other delegates during the 2016 CONA conference. Eddie is on the right end in the black jacket and pants.

CONA and YIG have been driving forces in Eddie’s growing patriotism. He explains, “CONA showed me all the different ways that Americans live. Going to a Christian school kept me in a kind of bubble but YIG and CONA helped a lot and I felt what it meant to be an American it also helped open my eyes to many issues that we face and so I’m joining the navy to become a Navy Chaplin and I’m going to enlist in the meantime to gain experience with other sailors. I want to be a Chaplin because they help sailors with counseling and religious practices which and the two most important issues in my life and I have talked about them with many people at CONA which has grown my experience and knowledge on the subjects.”

So, as you enjoy this Independence Day at the beautiful Blue Ridge Assembly on top of The Mountain consider not only what we as delegates are doing to improve our country, but what others, including former delegates, are doing to serve our great country. Happy Fourth of July delegates!

By: Ashley Hatch, CO


Eddie and the Colorado CONA delegation at the 2017 CONA conference closing ceremony