Sangre de Cristo Youth Tour

By Abby Berry

Tennis shoes. Check. Bottled water. Check. An eagerness to learn and lead. Check, check. If you’re a high school student looking for the trip of a lifetime, then the Washington D.C. Youth Tour is the trip for you.

Imagine a chance to visit our nation’s capital for one week, meet with more than 1,800 students from across the United States and visit with Colorado’s senators and congressional representatives. The best part? It won’t cost you a penny.

Colorado’s electric cooperatives share a strong commitment to their communities and the consumers they serve. Sponsoring students for this exciting, educational trip is just one of the ways we invest in our youth.

The weeklong Washington D.C. Youth Tour is jam-packed with sightseeing where history comes to life. While touring, students will visit many of the major monuments and memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument.

Students will also visit Capitol Hill where they will meet with Colorado senators and congressmen. Many past participants were so inspired by this experience that they later served as interns on the Hill, and many pursued a career in politics.

But Youth Tour is so much more than sightseeing. Students spend every waking minute together for a solid week and it’s not uncommon for lasting friendships to form. In fact, many of Colorado’s past participants ended up being college roommates, professional colleagues and lifelong friends. Youth Tour inspires many students to discover who they want to be.

“Colorado’s electric cooperatives have participated in the Rural Electric Youth Tour program since 1994 and we’ve had a lot of fun along the way,” said Liz Fiddes, director of member services and education at the Colorado Rural Electric Association. “Each year, we take a group of approximately 34 students. To see their reactions to these breathtaking sights is an experience in itself. Not only do they live and breathe many of the most important moments in U.S. history, they also meet with student leaders from across the nation. It’s a great opportunity to make lasting connections.”

Sangre de Cristo Electric Association, Inc., 2018 Youth Tour representatives gather for a group photo on the Colorado State Capitol steps last June prior to their departure for Washington, D.C.

The 2019 Washington D.C. Youth Tour will take place June 13-20. Colorado’s electric cooperatives are currently accepting applications and finalizing their selection process.

In addition to Colorado, more than 40 states also send students to D.C. for Youth Tour. On Monday, June 17, more than 1,800 students will gather for Youth Day and listen to inspiring guest speakers, including Mike Schlappi. Schlappi, an Olympic Gold Medalist, will share his emotional story and challenge students to take responsibility and be empowered throughout life’s challenges.

“Youth Day is really something to see,” Fiddes said. “Every year, we see a new group of students, but one thing is constant: the energy. These students are excited to be a part of this tour and it shows.”

“I will always treasure the memories I made during my trip to Washington, D.C., and I cannot express how thankful I am to my co-op for sponsoring me,” said one student about the 2018 Youth Tour. “I learned about how electric cooperatives work and visited historic places that brought history to life for me. This opportunity enabled me to head into my future strengthened and with a better understanding of my country.”

“Being a part of Youth Tour means you’re a part of a family,” according to Chris McGinnis, communications specialist from Sangre de Cristo Electric Association. “It’s more than a sightseeing trip, and these relationships don’t end just because the week is over. Whether it’s writing a letter of recommendation or providing career advice, we want our participants to know that we’re here for them and we care.”

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Virginia-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

Sangre de Cristo Youth Tour: June 13-20, 2019

Open to current sophomores, juniors and seniors whose parent or guardian receives electric service from Sangre de Cristo Electric Association, Inc.