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Beautiful People, Breathtaking Sights on Youth Tour

August 26, 2016

One hundred twenty-seven students and 16 chaperones from 57 Texas electric cooperatives returned in June from Texas' Government-in-Action Youth Tour after 10 days, a 3,000-mile round-trip flight from Austin to Washington, D.C., 45-plus destinations, more than 20 visits to U.S. Congressional members and the consumption of 40 pizzas.

This year's numbers are among the highest for Texas' participation in the program, organized by Texas Electric Cooperatives. That means even more students join generations of Youth Tour alumni who for decades have broadened their horizons on this trip. Next year could be even bigger and have an even greater impact.

Greenbelt EC 2016 participant Taylon Knorpp was skeptical about the tagline that describes Youth Tour as the "trip of a lifetime," but he soon was transformed.

"By the end of the trip, I couldn't imagine living life without all of the beautiful people I befriended on Youth Tour, and I will never forget all of the breathtaking sights I was fortunate enough to see with my own eyes," he said. "I don't care how many times it has been said and how cliché it may sound now, the only accurate way to describe Youth Tour is by saying it is 'the trip of a lifetime.' "

Perhaps that recurring sentiment makes it easier for parents to relinquish their teens to their sponsoring electric cooperatives and TEC for this incredible journey. "It's hard to turn over your kids for 10 days," said Martin Bevins, vice president of TEC Communications & Member Services and trip chaperone, but the fact that parents do so demonstrates the faith that members have in their co-ops.

First-time chaperone Taylor Montgomery, TEC's photographer and videographer, rediscovered a different kind of faith. "Everybody was so inclusive. There were no kids who were just off to the side," he said. "To see the kids bond that fast restores your faith in humanity."

TEC Youth Tour Director Esther Dominguez said it's not unusual for these young Texans to be noticed for their good behavior. On this year's trip, she said, observers commented that "the Texas group was the best Youth Tour group and the most polite."

Now if only the Texas group were the biggest. Dominguez said she is determined that Texas will have the highest participant count of all the states in 2017. She's pricing out next year's plane tickets—and might be ordering a record number of pizzas.

See how Texas youths step into action on Youth Tour here.