By: Delaney Donnohue

Photo by: Julia Hartlep

Heaton Hall

Delegates in the Conference on National Affairs research, write, and present several types of controversial topics in their proposals. Usually these works have personal connection and meaning to the delegates which only fires their passion for them as they continue in their committees. 

Committee ‘A’ was discovered to hold the biggest number of CONA delegates. As the largest committee out of the first twenty-six, the most popular topics revolve around implementing mental health programs and drug abuse and opioid proposals.

“It was certaintly a very lively, dynamic committee… I was always running around picking up ballots.”

Chloe Kinderman, a delegate from Alabama, was given the opportunity to clerk for Committee ‘A’ Monday morning on the mountain in the Heaton Hall Auditorium. She presented her proposal as a co-author with a delegate from Arizona reclassifying certain psychodelics Schedule Two drugs instead of Schecule One to increase medical research in the future. The proposal additionally ties in with the issue of mental health and providing better ways to improve that system in America.

“In my home state, I live near the Univeristy of Alabama at Birmingham, and they are doing some research on this.”

Kinderman also hits the point of why the two topics tend to intertwine, and the impact and importance they both have on everyone.

“The potential of psychedelics is huge… they have the potential to treat illnesses affecting millions of Americans, especially mental health… ultimately, we will be the leaders of tomorrow, and by having these discussions and understanding where everyone is coming from, we’re going to be able to effect change that will help people to live better, safer lives.”

Kinderman delves deeper by explaining that mental health is serious and the  conversations that are being presented and debated at CONA are only the beginning of working to improve mental health overall. These two topics are very important to the youth future as mental health affects millions of teenagers. 

By: Caroline Bell

Photo by: Adam Cesal

Bear spotting at Barnhardt Lodge

After lunch on Monday afternoon, an adviser, Adam Cesal, spotted a bear in the woods on the southern end of campus. The bear was located in the area by Barnhardt Lodge at around 2 PM. There is no further information on the bear at this time but the media team will update you as soon as information comes to us! Until then, remember what to do in case of a bear sighting.

Don’t approach the bear and never get in between a mother bear and cub. If you feel threatened, make yourself as big as you can and get loud to scare the bear away. Lastly, always alert Blue Ridge Staff on where the bear was sighted and when. Stay safe!

By: Caroline Bell

Photos by: Julia Hartlep

While sitting in the sea of delegates tuning in to the lucky proposal author that made in plenary, it became apparent that if you weren’t sitting close to the front it was hard to see and hear all the action. The YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly staff realized this and, just like what delegates are trying to do with their proposals, they tried to make change to happen. In fact, they made $30,000 worth of change.

There have been many new additions to Heaton Hall, Eureka Hall, the Amphitheater and the Blue Ridge Center. The controller for Blue Ridge Assembly, Erin Carter, says the updates are “so important to keep everything relevant and to keep the groups coming back and to provide y’all with the best opportunity and the best technology we could give you.” There has been 80+ inch TVs added to Heaton Hall and the Chapel of the BRC.

Although they are updating the facility, they make sure to keep the original feeling of Blue Ridge. An adviser for the Model UN delegation, Alex Wolkomir, says there is an “interesting balance of bringing in technology while also maintaining the outdoor feel that makes Blue Ridge so special.”

Along with new technology there have been upgraded wooden doors and completed glass paneling added to Eureka Hall. In addition, chairs were added to ensure all delegates have a comfortable place to lounge. Carter also informed the media team that there has been outdoor work to add even more beauty to the already astonishing Amphitheater. 

By: Julia Hartlep

Matthew Toren/Entrepreneur, National Sleep Foundation

Although CONA has just gotten started, we’re all feeling the effects. Many delegates got 2-5 hours (or less) of sleep these past couple of nights. This could be for many reasons, including stress, excitement, and the tight schedule. Even though there’s no way to get out of these, there are a few management tips!

  • Stay focused on why you’re here! If you stay engaged and attentive, you’re less likely to feel the fatigue.
  • Even though meeting people is important, don’t be afraid to take some time to yourself- everyone needs a little time to recharge. This will help you calm down and settle your mind as well.
  • Even though it’s hot and humid, motion will help keep you awake as well. Again, it helps you stay engaged in life.
  • Carbs will often make you feel more tired than you actually are- and sugar, though a short booster- will definitely make you feel worse in the long run. Keep this in mind if you’re feeling especially out of it at meals.
  • By improved the quality, not quantity, of sleep, you will feel more rested when you wake up. Ways to do this include staying off of your phone, keeping the lights low, and stretching before you go to bed. Check out the infographic above!
  • You can find more info about these tips- and more- at Healthline.

When you’re not well-rested, you tend to be more irritable and high-strung. Keep this in mind, especially when around opposing proposals, make sure to be respectful to each and every person you meet, and embody the Blue Ridge Spirit.

By: Madison Kelsh and Thomas Valenzuela

Photos by: Julia Hartlep

Early Sunday morning, the CEO Melissa Logan announced in an exclusive interview with the Blue Ridge Journal that the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly has planned and approved an $8 million plan to update some cabins on campus.

The cabins are located on the East side of Eureka Hall, called Cottage Circle. Cottage Circle was built in the early 1900s and is going to be torn down and rebuilt into a 10-bedroom lodge. Melissa says that the goal is to focus on bringing youth and family units closer together by providing space for larger groups. She told us that “it creates a great path for small families to stay on the poolside and then move over to our large cabins, and then move into our lodges”. Logan explained how the timeline for construction is planned to begin after CONA to prevent conflict. “We don’t want to disrupt too much of our campus at one time. Because when CONA is here we want to have all of the facilities and no construction going on.”

These major renovations come with a large price tag of $8 million. So far only $1.8 million has been raised yet more donations are expected. When a new milestone of fundraising is reached, a new phase of construction will begin. Each lodge will have 10 bedrooms, a kitchen, common living room, and dining areas. This project has a personal meaning for Melissa Logan.

“I am very excited about it. I think that any time BR can grow its impact for families and for young people, that is tremendous.  Blue Ridge had such an impact on my life at a young age, and so for us to be able to give that forward is incredible.” It is expected that delegates will be able to stay in some of the new lodges during next year’s conference. 

By: Julia Hartlep

Photo by: Julia Hartlep

Vivienne Garner

Trying things for the first time is always stressful and anxiety-inducing. This can be especially true for CONA- something that we have all worried about at one point. However, the butterflies in our stomach are also from excitement.

Arriving at the mountain, we all had different expectations- and by the end of the week the reality has either fell short, met, or exceeded them. (Hopefully it’s the latter!) This week, we’re going to examine the expectations of different first-year delegates- and how the realities compare. 

Vivienne Garner, from the Republic of Texas (pictured above) said that, by the end of this week, she expects “to understand how different people who think very differently can successfully work together.” This is a common goal for delegates, as one of the main aspects of CONA is the multitude of different backgrounds and opinions from all over the country.

Similarly, Jacey Matthews from the New Jersey delegations said that she expected “to hear many different perspectives and meet lots of cool people!”

Another first-year delegate had an uplifting experience. “I expected the worst… but I have so far been pleasantly surprised!” said Jessica Armijo from the New Mexico delegation. This describes the experience of many, many delegates, who have found ways to overcome the daunting, yet rewarding, tasks that CONA can offer.

As this week progresses, you too, whether you’re a first-year or returning delegate, can ensure that this week exceeds all expectations!

By: Julia Hartlep

Here at CONA, we use “Yapp” to stay up to date on all the latest news and check on our schedules. Some delegates say that it’s a lot easier to access than pulling out their mountain manuals, especially while on the go. However, many others haven’t heard about it. 

In order to use it, you’d have to:

  • First, download it on your mobile device. You can do this by going to your device’s app store, and searching “Yapp.” 
  • After you’ve downloaded and opened it, you’re going to be prompted to log in or create an account. You can create an account for free with your email, and a password of your choice. 
  • Once that’s done, you can head to your internet browser- on the same device- and go to 
  • On the web page, you can click on the “download” button. This will bring you back to the app, where it adds the CONA “yapp.”
  • By clicking on the CONA yapp (a red rectangle), you can explore and utilize Yapp’s functions, which include PDFs of schedules, committees, sharing groups, and the mountain manual. You can also find an updated news feed, videos, and even the swag shop!