Youth in Government

What is the purpose of the YMCA Youth in Government program?
Youth in Government, a national YMCA program, empowers students from every corner of the U.S. by giving them the opportunity to learn about—and experience—government policies and methodologies firsthand. This unique program is made up of thousands of teens nationwide in state-organized, model-government programs. Participants immerse themselves in experiential civic engagement, debate issues that affect citizens in their state and even propose legislation. The program culminates with teens serving as delegates at their state conference, debating bills on the floor of the legislature.

Youth in Government offers the opportunity for young people to:

  • Research local, state, and national issues of concern.
  • Analyze and organize information to propose change. 
  • Engage in dialogue with students across state and national locations. 
  • Skill building in communication, leadership, and community engagement. 

Idaho is a geographically, economically, and politically diverse state, it is important to prepare our future leaders to participate effectively in governing the state of Idaho.

“Democracy must be learned by each generation.”

Idaho’s YMCA Youth in Government is the second longest running conference in the United States. The first conference was held in 1936. 

The state is divided into four regions:

North Central

South Central

South East

South West

Each region holds a regional conference before the state conference to elect officials and appoint Supreme Court counsels to represent the region at the state conference. 

Each region has high schools or YMCA branch delegations.

Each school or YMCA branch holds monthly meetings to learn about the three branches of government and how each work to pass and enforce laws. 

All schools and YMCA branch delegations participate in a state conference running a model legislative session and Supreme Court. 

Idaho Youth Governors

Bill History

Idaho’s YMCA Youth in Government program is open to high school students (grades 7–12) in every community in Idaho. Youth delegations must represent either a school or YMCA group, the following Idaho schools currently have Youth in Government chapters:

  • Oakley High School
  • Clearwater Valley High School
  • Bear Lake High School
  • Leadore High School
  • Centennial High School
  • Caldwell High School
  • Borah High School
  • Capital High School
  • Kamiah High School
  • Grangeville High School

If your school does not have a chapter and you’re interested in getting involved, there are also chapters at the Downtown Boise YMCA and Caldwell YMCA.

Contact Sam Bellis at for more information.


Sam Bellis, Youth Experience and Innovation Director

Phone: 208 377 4886, ext. 208

Email us here!

2023-2024 Idaho Youth in Government State Committee Members

  • Hon. Judge Jessica Lorello
  • Hon. Justice Joel Horton
  • Hon. Judge Laurie Fortier
  • Phil Reberger 
  • Dr. Ross Burkhart
  • Cindy Wilson  
  • Steve Messenger
  • Alyson Townsley
  • Megan Schultz
  • Abigail Breidenbach
  • Jennifer Dettori
  • Stacey Gobel
  • Makenna Denuit

2024 Conference on National Affairs, June 29th – July 5th, 2024


Every summer, Youth in Government participants from across the country come together to participate at the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Selected delegates prepare proposals on issues of national importance to present and debate during the conference. The conference offers an opportunity for students to critically think about the nation, network with peers from different parts of the country, and have fun in the spirit of lively debate. The estimated cost of the entire trip is $2,500 per delegate (this includes conference fee, lodging, food, airfare, and ground transportation cost). Limited financial assistance is available.

If you are interested in applying for this conference, click below. 

This program is proudly funded by: