What is CWF and why should you care?
This weeklong national 4-H experience, located just outside Washington, D.C., allows youth to explore the area's museums and monuments, while also exploring what citizenship and leadership really mean.
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Every summer, youth from across the country travel to the National 4-H Youth Training Center in Chevy Chase, Md., to participate in Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF). This weeklong national 4-H experience, located just outside Washington, D.C., allows youth to explore the area’s museums and monuments, while also exploring what citizenship and leadership really mean. It is an intense week of learning and touring that participants agree is also a lot of fun.
This past June, Michigan 4-H sent 43 youth from around the state to the event. Traveling by bus, participants stopped in Gettysburg, Pa., to tour the Civil War battlegrounds before arriving at the National 4-H Youth Training Center for the CWF experience. About 250 youth from 10 state delegations attended CWF the same week. Delegations split up into committees, which focused on healthy living, communication, government, open-mindedness, talent and responsibility.
Each delegation was assigned a program assistant to act as tour guide and facilitator for the week. The PA for Michigan this year was Kelsie Smith, a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin. The group enjoyed her energy and her attitude and appreciated her vast understanding of the area. Program assistants led workshops on topics ranging from congressional issues to bill writing to action plans. They also served as guides for the assorted committees.
In addition to the workshops, youth had a chance to visit many area monuments and historical places, meet with Michigan legislators from their districts, and attend and participate in evening events. These included visiting Mount Vernon, the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery; attending a musical play, and watching a military reenactment. A particular highlight was visiting the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial just at dusk. Most participants said that they found this to be the most moving experience of the week.
CWF participants reported that the week is much more than just a leadership conference or sightseeing trip-- it is a significant encounter that shapes their perspectives and gives them confidence in their leadership skills. It is also the perfect opportunity to meet people from all over the country.
Preparing for next year’s CWF trip takes a fair amount of planning. The cost of the trip is finalized by September. Counties usually reserve the number of spots they’d like in the beginning of October, and non-refundable deposits are due by November. For the most updated information or to brainstorm ideas for your county to be involved in next year’s CWF, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.