Nalani Roberts

May 07, 2022
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TeenPact. What is it? That’s what I wondered after my mom signed me up to attend TeenPact North Dakota’s State Class.

My mom had seen an advertisement for the Four Day State Class on a homeschool Facebook page. All that I knew about TeenPact was that I would be learning about the U.S. government in our North Dakota State Capitol with many other students. It sounded fun and interesting to me. I knew that I would benefit from the class because, as I am sure many other Christians and homeschoolers can relate, I genuinely understood little about our state and federal government. Also, I did not keep myself “in the loop” because politics are often mood-dampening and seemingly corrupt.


My view of the American government began to change as I did the pre-class TeenPact homework. I learned a lot and realized how much I still had to learn. Furthermore, as I read Tim Echols’ book Real Citizenship, I realized our duties as Christians to not only stay updated, but to also be active in our government. Previously, I had a shallow understanding of a citizen’s role in government. Through reading Tim Echols’ book and my TeenPact experience, God really gave me a better understanding and a sense of responsibility. I learned that we ought to be more than casual observers. As citizens and followers of Christ, it is our job to take active roles in our community through servant leadership, volunteering in campaigns, standing up for what is right, and even running for state offices.


Even though the homework had piqued my excitement and interest, I still did not really know what TeenPact would be like. Would I be able to grasp all of the information they gave me? I was still having trouble remembering and understanding what I had researched for the homework. What about the clothing? We had to wear professional outfits all day. Did I purchase the right clothes and would they be uncomfortable? Thus, I took the three-hour road trip to Bismarck with my mom with mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension. 


When we arrived at the Heritage Museum, the TeenPact Staff had us begin with a fill-in-the-box, get-to-know-you game. I had always been pretty outgoing, but since our family moved to North Dakota in the summer of 2021, I had been more reserved than previously.

In a room where I knew no one except my mother, I realized that I was going to have to step outside my comfort zone and ask people to sign my Box Game.

Thankfully, someone asked me to sign their game first–a little crack in the ice. I started opening up, asking others to sign my game, and having conversations. The game was really fun, and the students and staff were extremely friendly and kind. It was the beginning of a fantastic week. The first day was filled with introductions to the class. Then we had our first taste of TeenPact Legislature (where the group becomes a mock legislature, practicing legislative action) by presenting our bills, being surprisingly interrupted when the gavel fell. Next, we were separated into committees, filled with people we would discuss bills with and get to know well.


At the beginning of the week, our Program Director, Zeke Erickson, had given us a speech about how we should aim at the center of the target, and, not truly understanding what I was doing, I decided to make the most of my experience. With this attitude, I ran for committee chairman, losing the position in a run-off election against fellow committee member, PJ Fleckenstein, and then succeeded in running for the committee’s clerk. When we stood in front of our committee answering questions from our committee’s staffers, it was a little nerve-racking. I did not really know how to answer, and my mind went blank because I was on the spot. It was really a growing experience, and hearing other people’s answers made mine seem weak, but somehow people voted for me! 


Later in the week I was glad that I was clerk and not chairman. First of all, I really enjoyed the position of clerk, and secondly, PJ was a TeenPact alumnus and thus had experience with Robert’s Rules of Order with which he led our meetings.


After our daytime classes, we met at local churches for evening sessions. These sessions were meaningful and impactful to me. We began the night with games, fellowship, and dinner where we were able to interact with each other and the staffers. Then, we gathered for a time of worship and a message given by Mr. Johnny Leifheit. Mr. Leifheit’s messages were excellent. He presented us with the truth and challenged us to not only know our faith, but to live it out with an emphasis on “matching behavior with belief.”

The evening messages were saturated with scripture, quotes from famous believers, history, and meaning. I went away from the week knowing that God can use and live through me, God has a unique purpose for me, and that life is not about me/us; it is about Him and reaching others.

We wrapped up each evening by splitting up into small groups, called Rendezvous. These Rendezvous gatherings gave us an opportunity to  discuss what God had spoken to us through the message, to fellowship and pray for each other, and to debrief the day. My Rendezvous leader, Molly Hutson, a TeenPact Intern, prayed for us, shared scriptures with us, and challenged us to share how we had noticed God in our day. I was really impacted by her heart for God and her desire to serve and honor Him.


During the week, Molly was not the only one to impact me. Each of the staff members did, too. They were knowledgeable, kind, had serving hearts, and most importantly, had genuine hearts for Christ. Another experience that was truly impactful was hearing from a North Dakota State Representative who is only twenty-three years old and began his term at age twenty-one. The staffers and this ND State Representative inspired me and gave me hope.

Lately, God has been teaching me how young people can have close relationships and be used by Him too, and this was a further affirmation of what He is showing me. 


In summary, I had so much fun participating in Field Experiences, TeenPact Legislature, committee meetings, Rendezvous, and so much more. I even had the opportunity to run for class Senator and campaigned with flyers and candy. Others were elected instead of me, but the experience was fantastic, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to run for office. 


My mom and I had planned on leaving on Thursday afternoon at the end of the Four Day State Class, but I had so much fun that we decided to stay an extra day for the Political Communications Workshop (PCW), which was held on Friday. The Friday PCW was just as fun, if not more than the Four Day State Class. We students had the opportunity to practice negotiating, campaigning, and public speaking skills in the form of games and activities that turned out to be hilarious. I enjoyed the week so much that I am considering attending TeenPact’s National Convention as well as an Alumni Event next year, and I am prayerfully considering applying to be a staff member.


Thank you very much to everyone who made the North Dakota TeenPact State Class possible. You impacted so many North Dakota youth and helped initiate life-changing experiences. I really appreciate everyone who had a part in making the week happen. I would like to say it again–THANK YOU!