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Government-in-Action Youth Tour
Memories of an all-expense-paid week in Washington, D.C., can last a lifetime for Texas high school students

For high school students who grow up in rural Texas, visiting a place like Washington, D.C., might sound like a far-away dream. But every year, more than 100 such students are given the opportunity travel to the capital for an intensive weeklong tour—and it doesn't cost them a dime.

In June, the Government-in-Action Youth Tour, sponsored the state's electric cooperatives in conjunction with Texas Electric Cooperatives and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, sends select students on an all-expense-paid trip to the nation's capital. In Washington, tour participants get to see with their own eyes sights they may have only experienced in history books or on television. 

In addition to visiting monuments, museums and historical sites that would be a part of any standard tour of the capital, the students also fulfill the ambition of then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon Johnson, who inspired the Youth Tour with his desire expressed in 1957 for young people to "actually see what the flag stands for and represents."

Tour participants get to meet their members of Congress, hear inspirational speakers and interact with other Youth Tour participants from across the country. Texas' students also have the chance to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, see the Sunset Parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial, and visit the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives' chambers and the Library of Congress.

After the intense week on the go—traveling, eating and touring together—many of the Youth Tour participants form fast friendships that continue after they return home. Inspired by their trip, some Youth Tour alumni have gone on to enter public service. And almost to a person, those who have gone on the Youth Tour have called it "the trip of a lifetime."