Youth and Government at the Y

Contact Us

The Friendship YMCA
5000 Commons Drive


7PM-8:30PM Wednesdays

Stay Connected

Since its inception in Pennsylvania in 1946, YMCA PA Youth & Government has grown from a simple program featuring only a Model Legislature and a Youth Governor, to an incredibly realistic and complex simulation of Pennsylvania state government, involving over 700 young people every year. Participants have opportunities to serve as legislators, judges, attorneys, lobbyists, and media members. The YMCA PA Model Convention is conducted almost entirely by students and thus many leadership opportunities exist for interested delegates. The possibilities for discovery are virtually limitless.

While the primary goal of this program is the promotion of responsible citizenship, students come away from YMCA PA Youth & Government with much more than a greater knowledge of the inner-workings of government. Participants sharpen their leadership skills and improve their problem solving and critical thinking abilities while they become more adept at debate and public speaking. Students build self-esteem as they learn that their ideas matter and they can make a difference in their world. Delegates meet their peers from around the state, form life-long friendships and learn to respect the views and opinions of others. As YMCA PA Youth & Government participants experience what it is like to run the state of Pennsylvania for a few days, they also learn a great deal about themselves – their abilities, their interests, and their responsibilities as citizens in a participatory democracy.

Students meet regularly as a club through the school year beginning in September. Each club consists of participating students and is led by YMCA staff and volunteers. The Youth and Government year in segments below:

September Clubs reorganize for the year and restart their regular meetings
October 2, 2021Club Officers attend Servant Leader Training
November 2021Election Convention
February 2022Pre-Legislative Convention is held – students test run their bills so they can refine.
April 21-24, 2022Model Legislature is held at the State Capital – students from across the state come to present their bill on the House and Senate Floors. Those participating in the Judicial Program argue their cases in front of the student State Supreme Court.

Legislative Branch

Judicial Branch – In Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Chambers, student attorneys argue in a tournament-style Mock Appeals Court where student Justices preside. Student attorneys write legal briefs and prepare and present an oral argument. Justices then deliberate and issue their opinion at the end of the Mock Government Experience based on these legal briefs and oral arguments.

Press Corps – Media can be considered the fourth branch of government. Student journalists research and write articles, shape our social media presence, and conduct interviews to keep the rest of the participants up-to-date throughout the entire program year.

Executive Branch – Each year, the Mock Government Experience hosts the race for next year’s Youth Governor. Candidates create platforms and advocate their qualifications during the Gubernatorial Debate and through “grassroots” campaigning. Once elected, the Youth Governor becomes the leader and face of youth & government. The Youth Governor hand-selects an Administration to seek the passage or failure of bills based on the Youth Governor’s platform.

Want to stay up-to-date with
the latest exciting news and fun events?