"Essentially what it is, it is for those top students in the nation who are active with Young America Foundation throughout the year," Bobby Hamill said of the program. "By hosting different speakers or putting on different events such as 9/11 Never Forget, Freedom Week, No More Che Day, and other events that the Young America Foundation holds. So they have a point system and those students who have 100 points or more get awarded with a trip out to California that Young American Foundation provides for and it has a whole bunch of different events."
Organized primarily by Young America's Foundation Vice President Patrick Coyle, the first event of the three days was an overnight stay at the cabins in the El Capitan Canyon, where the gathering enjoyed a barbecue and were later joined by Southern California talk radio host Mark Larson. Ann McElhinney, writer and producer of the anti-Global Warming film Not Evil Just Wrong, spoke as well and then joined the group around a campfire.
Bobby and Karl
"One of the best things, obviously, was getting to hear from Karl Rove," Bobby Hamill said of his experience. "He had a phenomenal talk about his book (Courage and Consequence) which was interesting but everything he spoke about was great. He spoke a lot about his time serving with President Bush and working with him in the Oval Office, especially his experience of 9/11, what he remembers from that was pretty powerful, all of the stories that he had regarding that date, that was pretty neat. It was a great chance to spend all of this time with other College students and other University Students from around the country who share the same passion for politics as you do."
Rove joined the students for a private reception on Friday afternoon on the roof of the Reagan Ranch Center in downtown Santa Barbara where he personally signed copies of Courage and Consequence. He then was the keynote speaker at a luncheon downstairs where he regaled the audience with his 9/11 accounts.
"The biggest thing that I actually would say is that the world of political activism is a small one," Charlotte Evans recalled about her important experiences at the retreat. The new chair of the Wisconsin CRs found herself in familiar company, despite the small number of activists who were awarded a trip to the event. "I ran into people whom I knew before, my roommate who I actually met last year at the Young America Foundation convention in Washington DC and that was kind of funny and everyone I met had already met someone else that I kind of knew. And it was really neat to be in the same environment that Ronald Reagan was in and how he was grounded and not only how he had the conservative values but also the traditional conservative lifestyle as well. You don't need to be a rich politician, you can be a real person, and you can be genuine person, you can be successful in politics, and you can be the best President we ever had."
Charlotte and Karl
After horseback riding at the Circle B Ranch, Reagan-style, indeed the culminating event of the weekend was a tour of the Reagan Ranch. High up in the mountains, Rancho del Cielo— meaning "Ranch in the Sky" is 688 acres of rolling, tree-covered hills that served for 25 years as a home and then as a retreat for Ronald Reagan during his presidency. Ana Lightle, tour guide, took the young activists through the ranch home, talked about his persona, his presidency, and how it helped him to become such a great leader.
"It is just really cool to talk to other campus activists," Charlotte recalled. "To see what other ideas they have and find out what was successful for them and figure out how we can implement that on our campus and learn from their mistakes and things that worked for them and things that weren't successful and things that got them in trouble and how we can build off of that so that Wisconsin doesn't have similar problems. I am just grateful that I got to go. I would actually consider almost everybody to be middle class there but they were differing degrees of middle class I suppose. There were people there who were in fancy dresses and had their hair all nice and I was there in my 'plaids'. Being able to ride horses on the mountains and being able see Reagan Ranch from their was cool too."
2010 AWARD WINNERS FOR THE CLUB 100 REAGAN RANCH RETREAT SPONSORED BY THE YOUNG AMERICAN FOUNDATION.
•Travis Korson – George Washington University
•Danny Laub – St. Louis University
•Mick Paskiewicz – DePaul University
•Ryan McNicholas – University of California - Santa Barbara
•Charlotte Evans – Marquette University
•Chris Garcia – Pepperdine University
•Katie Poedtke – Fordham University
•Lauren Scirocco – Ramapo College
•John Masko – Wheeler School
•Kiana Dunn – San Pasqual High School
•Scott McAfee – Emory University
•Stephen Barkley – UNC-Greensboro
•Bobby Hamill – University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
•Michael Boglovits – UNC-Greensboro
•Jacob Kampen – University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
•Matt Capristo – University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
•John Eick – UNC-Chapel Hill
•Blayne Bennett – Arizona State University
•Janie Abel – Canisius College
•Joe Naron – George Washington University