(For those new to YP lingo, pastie = past participant)
2011, 2012, 2013. Those are the years that I have had the privilege and honour of being part of the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament program. Given that this is sadly my final year that I can remain involved as a participant, I feel that it is time to share with you all some of the things that I have picked up along the way.
First and foremost, there are a few things that are essential to bring to Residential Camp.
Be prepared to say hello to sleep deprivation with very little sleep throughout the week. Say goodbye to sleep deprivation with a glorious Cup of Joe! BRING COFFEE OR YOU WILL NOT FUNCTION. I cannot put it more simply!
We will spend a great deal of time throughout the camp looking spiffy when we…
… for Parliament. Do not forget however to bring some comfort clothes (INCLUDING DEM UGGIES!) for the mornings and nights around Parliament. I mean, looking good is cool, but staying in your formal clothes for the whole camp?
Do not forget to bring plenty of lollies. There are times throughout the week, and by times I mean every waking second, where you will be in dire need of a sugar hit. Late nights spent writing speeches and reviewing legislation, go hand in hand with bags upon bags of lollies!
On a more serious note, bring a folder and plenty of writing paper. If three years of Youth Parliament have taught me one thing, it is that the seats around the Chambers of Parliament are nowhere near as comfortable as they look.
There is very little space to spread out and mark your territory (maybe in an effort to discourage MPs getting too comfortable in their positions haha!), so a folder to compile all of your notes and speeches is far more useful than you may think!
Also, you will be writing many speeches for the open floor debates at the last minute, and passing many notes to colleagues in Parliament, so bring plenty of writing paper and blank palm cards.
Strepsils and lozenges are also a must! Spending over a week in a confined space with 160+ people, along with sleep deprivation, can lead to the infamous Resi Flu! There’s no beating it, don’t even try, this isn’t a very common cold…
It is a disastrous condition, which is amplified by the sadness you will feel after completing YP, and hangs around for weeks. If you fall ill earlier than expected, yelling (productively?) at one another in the Chamber, Parliament is made a little bit harder (enter Strepsils).
Sleep. Do not forget to sleep. You will be tempted to stay up all night braiding each others hair and whatnot, but I beg you to get what little sleep you can.
I’ll let you in on a secret… The skylights in Parliament of an afternoon are the devil. The sun hits the right spot at around 3 o’clock, and from then on all natural light entering the chamber is dampened somewhat, and has the magical property of being able to draw you into an ill-timed snooze. Do not fall into the light! Sleep at night, and get the most out of your Parliamentary experience during the day.
Again, bring plenty of paper.
INTRODUCING WARM AND FUZZIES!
On the last night of YP, rule out the aforementioned concept of sleep.Instead, you will spend all night writing nice messages to all YMPs, for them to take home and feel all warm and fuzzy when they read them. (Please note: I expect a warm and fuzzy from everyone! AND I’m not one to say no to the occasional Hot and Steamy :P)
All kidding aside though, I encourage everyone to get up and make the most out of their Youth Parliament experience. Take part in the debates, get up and voice your opinions! Get to know as many fellow YMPs as you can, and feel confident in your values and views. Be prepared for a life changing experience. Expect passionate, informative, and at times emotional debate.
And if there is anyone who is reading this that isn’t directly involved in the program, you probably are totally confused by everything that I have said. BUT lucky for you, if you want to find out more, you can come and watch YMCA NSW Youth Parliament in action in both houses of NSW Parliament on the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th of July.
The Honourable Brydan Toner, MLC
Deputy Leader of the Youth Government in the Legislative Council
(Lover of all things YP) – also known as that smashing young man in the above photo
Thanks to past participant, and 2012 Youth Parliamentarian of the Year for passing on his wise words of advice. Follow him on Twitter at @BrydanToner to catch all the action from the Legislative Council during #YP2013 sitting week!