TeenPact convention comes to Dayton

14 years ago Bill Findley 0

by Billy Findley, staff writer

Tim Echols runs the annual auction at last year's convention.
Tim Echols runs the annual auction at last year's convention.

The city of Dayton, Tenn. is expected to see a sudden population boom this coming May as approximately 500 people, teenagers and parents, from 39 different states make their way to Fort Bluff and the Teen Pact National Convention. Ok, the students may not be permanent residents of Dayton, for they will only be in Dayton for five days. However, the five-day convention promises to be action-packed, challenging and a life-shaping time for the attendees.

According to President of Teen Pact Tim Echols, the state-wide events can be a powerful benefit for students looking to develop strong leadership skills. Teen Pact is an organization that strives to teach children and teenagers all over the country how Christian faith can be incorporated into the world of politics and government. Students of Teen Pact spend the day at their state capitol, attend various workshops on governmental structure and communication, write bills, elect leaders, meet lobbyists and more.

“We want kids to catch a vision for Christians to be engaged in politics,” Echols says.

Unlike the regular Teen Pact events, which are comprised only of students from that state, the conventions are comprised of students from all over the country who are alumni of the state-wide events. The focus of the convention is to teach students the logistics of the national government and to increase their communication skills through creating bills, debating and holding mock elections.

The Teen Pact convention is something Teen Pact has done since 1996. For the last three years it’s been held in Winder, Ga. This year will be the first time the event has been held in Dayton.

“It definitely did shape me,” senior and Teen Pact alumni John Moore says. “It taught me how much ideas matter.”

Moore attended Teen Pact, including the convention, two years in a row. He served on staff after that and eventually interned for the organization when he was 17.

“My college experience has taken the foundation I got at Teen Pact and shaped it,” Moore says.

Like Moore, several current Bryan students have been influenced through Teen Pact. Junior Elijah Ammen, also a Teen Pact alumnist, says the convention was a great interacting opportunity and has influenced his thinking greatly as well.

However, according to Echols, the Teen Pact organization plans to expand its influence on Bryan even more this coming year by providing for the addition of the Cultural Impact team. This team is to function a lot like the current worldview team though Echols says the same curriculum will not be used, and the team’s focus will be more bent on applying Christian worldview to government, politics and the like. The logistical coordinator of the team will be current senior Anna Downer.

“We want to help Bryan move more into the area of public policy and cultural impact,” Echols says.

No doubt, Teen Pact has already had an influence on Bryan students but with the addition of the Cultural Impact team, it should invoke even more influence on students in the years to come. Tim Echols is scheduled to speak at the Bryan graduation on May 9th.