The following are approved submissions that have passed through editing. This list is alphabetical, and will be updated as the stories are edited.

— Maine told us how to tame a moose in Tuesday’s edition of The Blue Ridge Journal. That story will appear here soon.

Fun, Future Leaders to Come from Family of Alabama
By Zijie Yin, Alabama

The rocking chairs. Seeing sunrise from the porch of Lee Hall. The debates. And, of course, the infamous “getting out of bed and you’re really tired but you still have to talk” feeling. All of these characteristics, among many other, compose a portion of the wonderful, if not sweaty and hot, memories that members of the Alabama delegation will take with them this year at CONA. While the group consists of many returning delegates, such as Amber Voss and Brannen McMahan, there are a number of first-year speakers as well, namely Ben Andrews and Lauren Hunt. A lot of the time, this delegation goofs off, tells good, bad jokes and simply laughs for no reason, but when seriousness demands its attention, its constituents are completely formed on the proposal at hand, led by debaters such as Pranav Bethala. Contrary to popular belief, we do wear shoes, have indoor toilets and do not have heavy Southern accents (well, some of us do). Rather, this delegation, in the minds of many, is filled with intelligent people are passionate about what they believe in, and will most likely become the future leaders of America and the world. And though many are happy about being on the Mountain this year, they are also sad because it is their last year to do this, knock-knock Whitney Lott. Nonetheless, they, and we all from Alabama, greatly enjoy the invaluable opportunity we have at hand and bask in the glory of memories we will take home this year at CONA.

The Arizona Delegation Doesn’t Bite
By Bill McDonald, Arizona

Arizona, only able to bring three delegates to CONA last year, is extremely excited to be represented
by seven enthusiastic delegates at this year’s conference. If you haven’t met them yet, keep an eye
out for Richard Park, Carlos Ochoa, Brock Watterson, Bill McDonald, Sydney Salazar, Meara Clark and
Ashley Gerbracht. The six first-years, all have been infected by the virulent “Blue Ridge Spirit” in
their time so far at Blue Ridge. A diverse group creatively, Arizona fielded a wide variety of proposals on
the mountain this year ranging from education reform to fighting drug cartels to tax code revision. The
group wasn’t entirely sure what to expect coming into the conference but instantly found themselves a
new home far from the desert landscape of Arizona in the wooded mountains of North Carolina. If you
see any of the Arizona delegation around, feel free to say hello. They don’t bite.

California’s Trip Begins Off the Mountain
By Jake Friedler, California

California’s journey to the mountain began about 4 a.m. Tuesday, June 28th – four days prior to the beginning of the 44th Conference on National Affairs. Around this time, a chorus of iPhones and alarm clocks from up and down California’s 770-mile coast erupted to awaken their sleepy owners, many of whom had been sleeping for just a couple of hours. We headed off to a grand total of seven different airports, not to be fully united until many hours later when we shared a heartwarming reunion at the Raleigh, N.C., airport, and where the real journey began. Each year, the California CONA delegation embarks on a short pre-trip for the purposes of sightseeing, preparing proposals and speeches, and getting to know that foreign land called “The South.” This year’s batch of Golden State representatives spent our pre-trip in Richmond – former capital of the Confederate States of America and current capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. When we weren’t busy lusting over Thomas Jefferson’s life or trying to figure out how they actually make sweet tea, the California 25 spent their time touring around the Richmond area and visiting historic landmarks including the beautiful state capitol. The first stops were the Confederate White House and the Museum of the Confederacy, where we learned about Jefferson Davis and discovered that some Southerners actually do refer to the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression.” Thursday was highlighted by a trip out to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville. On Friday, the group came to Asheville and went to the Flat Rock Playhouse. Saturday morning, we went to the Biltmore Estate, which left many of us feeling vindicated in their crazy-Berkeley-liberal-socialist-commie-beliefs about taxing the rich. The delegation also made time to continue some long-standing Californian traditions by having their annual CiCi’s pizza dinner, receiving bedtime stories from their advisers and practicing cheers on the bus rides. But the pre-trip was not just fun and games. Most spare moments were spent in the hotel, where the delegates delivered their sponsor speeches nightly in order to garner feedback from both their fellow delegates and their advisers. Many chose to re-write their speeches three or four times in a search for that elusive perfect argument or that touch of signature California sass. Practice debates and model committee sessions were held in order to ensure that each delegate would be confident in his/her knowledge of topic before arriving at the conference. The delegation loved the beauty of Virginia and North Carolina. The mood in the air was one of anticipation, with the California delegates feeling prepared and excited for the challenges that they knew were waiting for them. The California pre-trip was an incredible experience, one that was very conducive to both a better understanding of the South as well as the formation of tight bonds between each and every one of the California delegates.

Colorado Here for Second Year
By Jessica Huang, Colorado

Colorado’s Youth in Government engages young leaders to become passionate about serving its state through the act of passing legislation that would change current unjust social policies or reinforce new laws that benefit the common good. The young leaders even get to ‘substitute’ for the representatives, senators and justices in the Capitol Building over Thanksgiving break. After a nine-year hiatus, this is Colorado’s second year sending a delegation to CONA. We may be small, but our voices can be heard nice and loud. Through attending this conference, the delegates strive to gain perspective and inspiration on topics for next year’s proposals as well as bills for our state conference. Overall, we’d like to thank Blue Ridge Assembly and the YMCA for providing us with this extraordinary opportunity!
P.S. The ‘Mountain’ is really a hill compared to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, if you want a real ‘Rocky Mountain High’ visit Colorado!

The Vote is In, Connecticut is the Classy State
By Jordan Adams and Julia Hannigan

The Connecticut delegation doesn’t have any horrific travel stories. Our state isn’t flooded nor is it on fire, but, be assured, we are ecstatic to be here nonetheless.
For the past few months of CONA preparation, we only faced one major problem: Do we call ourselves the “friendly” state of Connecticut … or the “classy” state? While we do consider ourselves to be friendly, we eventually decided on the title of “The Classy State of Connecticut.”
Classy or friendly, we realized that we forgot something while we were packing for the mountain: a mascot. So, while at Ingle’s, a watermelon was purchased and a face drawn on it in sharpie. We hold the deepest sympathy for the missing penguin, knowing how it feels to lose a mascot. The only difference is: we ate ours.
At our round table meeting, we discussed what the Fourth of July means to us. From sharing childhood memories to stories of immigrating to the United States, we came to one conclusion: from the moment you step foot on this mountain, the Fourth of July will forever mean the Blue Ridge Spirit. We may not have had fireworks, but we did celebrate with glowstick bracelets and a patriotic cake. We felt the presence of the Blue Ridge Spirit when our celebratory cake slipped off the lap of CLC Representative Ryan Dennehy, but landed perfectly on the floor, unharmed and ready to eat. This resulted in a huge round of spirit fingers and the distribution of the delicious treat.
The Classy State of Connecticut hopes that you enjoy your week at CONA. Take advantage of this opportunity. Speak your mind and make new friends.
Here it is … your moment of Zen.

The Human Spirit Can Be The Blue Ridge Spirit
By Matt Roarty, Delaware

All of us are familiar with the Blue Ridge Spirit – that sense of ultimate communion with CONA delegates of all races, religions and creeds. The Blue Ridge Spirit represents everything we live about this conference. Some delegates, at the end of the conference, will look at the mountain and think, “Why can’t the rest of the world be like this?” It’s because here, they’ll decide, there’s the Blue Ridge Spirit.
In this way, we make the assumption that there is something inherently special about Blue Ridge Assembly, and sure, there are great buildings and views, but what really makes the mountain special are the people on it. When we open our hearts and our lives to others, and they to us, we have achieved what we call the “Blue Ridge” Spirit. But we must be careful that by using that name we do not limit the Spirit to Blue Ridge. The Spirit exists wherever we want it to, so long as we work for it. Compassion for others can survive anywhere people come together (be it a nation, a state, a city, or a mountain) for the purpose of building stronger people and communities. If we want to, at the end of the week, look at the mountains and not ask “Why can’t …?” but answer, “It can,” then we have to live every day like we live this week. Because really, there is no “Blue Ridge” Spirit – only the human spirit.

District of Columbia:
Even at First Glimpse, CONA is Amazing
By Samantha Brew, District of Columbia

“BARACKOBAMACITY! … You know what it is Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania … Michigan swag!” The cafeteria resounds with loud cheering from various delegations from all over the United States, all trying to make their state known while engaging everyone to join into the hype, the fun and the excitement of CONA.
Meeting and greeting so many new people. Seeing many new faces, voices, colors, proposals and the beautiful views of the mountain. All being taken in while determining which pins to trade.
From the moment I first stepped on the Blue Ridge Mountain and got invited to play “Ninja,” a game I have never heard of before, by Jennifer from Oklahoma, a girl whom I’ve never met before, I knew that this would be an amazing experience I would never forget. And it had only just begun!

How to tame a moose: the true untold story of the Maine CONA 2011 Delegation

The moose is a fickle beast, but when trained provides an excellent ride to CONA.
In fact, becoming a Maine delegate to CONA is much like training a moose. There are several key principles that must always be kept in mind.
1. Always be unprepared: Moose hate structure, and their incredible sense of smell can detect a plan from 17.5 miles away, and it drives them to uncontrollable anger.
2. Improvise: You never know what a moose will do, just as you never know what Kahn Thomas Branch will do when he dances. Know that even if you don’t have pins, shirts, placards, or proposals, a central tenet of the Maine CONA approach is improvisation. No T-shirt? A sticky note with the word “Maine” on it works. No placard? A sticky note with the word “Maine” on it works. No proposal? No problem. Because you have …
3. Charm: Bull Moose are the most dangerous creatures in Maine. Yet, to receive the honor of becoming a Maine delegate, each applicant must not only ride this monster, but also charm its antlers (in Maine-speak known as a “rack”) off. This aspect translates to CONA extraordinarily well, especially when gathering pins and T-shirts with only smiles.
4. Pride: No one has more pride than a Maine Moose. The only way to gain his respect is to straight rep Maine
Keep these in mind, and someday you to can be a Maine delegate.

Mascots Create Mania, Become Face of Delegation
By Hannah Bialic, Massachusetts

Wisconsin has a cow; Mississippi has a monkey; Kentucky has a monkey on a pig; Louisiana has a gator; Florida has an aardvark; New Mexico has a frog; and now Massachusetts has a teddy bear.
You may ask yourself what these strange stuffed creatures represent and why they hold so much importance that rival delegations go on missions to capture them. The answer is simple: it’s CONA. These mascots are more than just animals from their states. They are, as one Massachusetts family member stated, the “face of the delegation.” These mascots “unite us all.” Each represents a tangible and huggable bundle of that infamous Blue Ridge Spirit. Just like the Lee Hall rocking chairs, heavenly Eureka Treats, Cheerwine, T-shirts, pins, or the dart game, mascots are a part of this mountain. Up here we share beliefs, friendships, ideas and experiences, but other than the laws scribed in the pages of the beloved Mountain Manual, we go by one unwritten rule: “What’s mine is yours … except for our mascot.”

Nice People of Minnesota Relocate Temporarily to the Mountain
By Ishan Sahu, Minnesota

Read this to get an understanding of Minnesota.
Minnesota is full of unique things. It’s hard to believe that we as a delegation drove 26 hours to get here. It’s hard to believe we have an accent. It’s hard to believe our government shutdown; and, it’s hard to look at our shirts without squinting in the sun.
Our delegates left Minnesota, the Conference on National Affairs started and thus in turn the Minnesota government shut its doors on July 1st. Ironic? No, it is simply that some of the smartest youth of Minnesota are in North Carolina and like magic the employment in North Carolina rises from 4,053.9 to 4,065.9. Where did I get that statistic? Sorry delegate, the time for non-debatable technical questions has now elapsed. It is simply that Minnesotans are kind, forgiving and innovative. The 23 delegates here representing Minnesota are the kindest people you will ever meet. So, in essence, we are not just that northern-most state, we like to think of ourselves as “facilitators.” Wait … I mean friendly folks.
So when and if you can get the chance to meet one of us, be sure to meet the rest of us. As they say, we are “Minnesota Nice.” So next time you are wondering whether it is a tertiary motion, don’t worry, here is some advice: first the main motion, then the subsidiary motion and then the tertiary motion.
So what? If you are debating, in your head, whether this was a waste of time, don’t it’s out of order any way. You can make friends now and have a “parli-pro” contest with that officer next to you.
I know what you are thinking, while I applaud the author’s intent, I don’t fully understand the meaning.
What do we call that? A win-win-win situation.

New Mexico:
New Mexico: One Family in Love
By Valeria Ojeda

The New Mexico delegation es una familia.
We are comprised of 17 Youth and Government delegates from the legislative branch, judicial branch and forum. New Mexico’s state conference in itself is relatively small as reflected through our delegation. Some may take pity us, but honestly, it is amazing. Before CONA, we were able to have bonding nights. These bonding nights brought together students from Albuquerque, Estancia, East Mountain and Los Lunas, who went from strangers to best friends (with new nick names.) Our bond was only strengthened once we arrived at the mountain. Arriving to the conference, New Mexico was excited to meet a lot of new people from across the United States. Reaching out to new people is a backbone to what CONA is, but delegation meetings are always great for reconnecting to where it all began. We as a delegation have done nothing but come closer together because we love each other to death. While we have made life-long friends across the state, there’s nothing like sitting in a circle with your delegation and feeling at home. Only some of our delegation has felt the Blue Ridge Spirit, but all of us feel the Nuevo Mexico amor.

New York:
New York Youth and Government Celebrates 75 Years in Style
By Theodora Weatherby, New York

This year, the New York State Youth and Government program celebrated its 75th anniversary. Clement A. Duran and W.H. Burger founded Youth and Government in New York in 1936. Not only was this a big event for New York, but also for the rest of the states; creating a precedent others could follow.
New York marked the anniversary with a lavish ceremony during the state conference and special edition New York State 75th anniversary pins, a rare commodity at this year’s CONA gathering. Once again, the New York delegation was proud to be returning to the Mountain for another wonderful week on the Mountain and is looking forward to returning next year!

North Carolina
NC Youth Leg is Like a Bow Tie
By Kyle Leopard

For the North Carolina delegation, bow ties are more than a just statement about Southern fashion. Bow  ties represent the way we feel about our state conference. Much like the process of tying a bow tie, mastering our Youth Legislature takes fervent practice and dedication. Fortunately, a score of past participants have laid out precise directions on how to perfect this process.
Regardless of the color or the pattern of a bow tie, each one is tied the exact same way. In a similar manner as the participants of the North Carolina, Youth Legislature sessions change and vary, those that have come before ensure that every new group molds together and achieves their maximum potential.
In my opinion, there is no better description of the North Carolina Youth Legislature and its participants than the description of a tied bow tie. The product of a fully tied bow tie is classy, elegant and a culmination of hard work and passion.

Bus Bonding: A Journey to the Mountain and Beyond
By Bethany Foxx and Brandon Henken, Pennsylvania

While CONA bonding is superior, bus bonding cannot be discredited. Meeting in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the PA delegation began its journey to CONA promptly at 9:30 a.m. Before picking up the D.C. delegation, we kindled our old bonds and built new ones with first-year members. Conversation ranged from proposals to T-shirts, from history to chants based on Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.” However when we pulled up to McDonald’s in Virginia, our family was complete. Greeting us with lovely hugs and charming smiles as we got off the bus, the D.C. delegation united with us once again.
After lunch, the D.C.-PA synergy commenced in the form of group activities. Led by Christine “Mama” Yurky, we divided into teams and started our quest as “game show contestants” to be put to the test on PA and D.C. history. We also discussed each others favorite foods, T.V. shows, unique travel destinations. It was a fantastic way to meet new people prior to the conference itself.
When the bus finally began the climb to Blue Ridge, a collective scream of enthusiasm went out from all of the delegates. We were finally here! After disembarking the bus and unloading our luggage, socializing began. Each PA delegate swiftly connected with new friends and reconnected with ones from years past. The energy of the mountain and the Blue Ridge spirit was upon us all, as we reflected on our day at our delegation meeting. It is an honor to return to the mountain, and the fun has only begun.

Don’t Let Judgments Rain on Your Parade
By Amelia Haskins and Emmy Lake, Washington

If major American cities were hormonal teen-age girls in a standard American public high school, and there was a burn book circulating, everyday stereotypes would be written on the pages. Chicago would be the windy city; New York City would be named the highly dangerous place where you would be most likely to lose your wallet at gunpoint. Los Angeles would be accused of being fake and spray tanned to perfection. Finally, Seattle’s page would state “Never Stops Raining.”
However, when you look at a list of the rainiest cities in America, Seattle doesn’t even make an appearance in the top 10.
According to, Research News and Science Facts, which receives its information from the Western Regional Climate Center, the rainiest major city in the continental United States is New Orleans, Louisiana. Cities that are generally considered sunny and warm, trail behind New Orleans on this list. Those cities include, Miami, Memphis, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Orlando, Nashville, and Houston. New York City, Providence, R.I, Hartford, Ct, and Virginia Beach, Va. are also in the top 10. That doesn’t even include Hawaii and Alaska, which receive more than 100 inches of rain annually.
Some say we receive our reputation because we have the longest rainy season.
However, Seattle is the fourth city on the list with the most precipitation annually.
Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., as well as Cleveland, Ohio, all rank higher than Seattle on the top 10 cities with the most days of precipitation annually.
Yes, our rainy season is pretty long, but it is not the constant downpour you may believe it to be. It’s actually more of a constant cloud cover and drizzle than it is actual rain. This is what has lead to our infamous reputation. The reason Seattle doesn’t receive a constant downpour of heavy rain is because of the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges absorbing the moisture in the clouds. As much as teen-agers don’t like to be gossiped about, American cities don’t appreciate being stereotyped, especially when most stereotypes aren’t even based in fact. For example, Chicago may be known as the “windy city,” however, according to, the windiest city in the continental United States is actually Dodge City, Kan. Also, people might think New York City is a crime-infested, overpopulated location. But even this stereotype is corrupt. According to, New York City isn’t even in the top 10 cities based on their crime risk.
Basically, what we’re trying to say, is that always do your research before coming to a conclusion. This is something we as representatives all know the value of especially this week. So never make a haste judgment no matter how insignificant it may be.