By Kyle Jillson | December 13 2011 12:13

2011 Youth Education Summit alum Kaley Read recently sent us an essay she wrote for her senior English class on the topic of defining moments in life. Kaley chose to write about the Y.E.S. program and how the week-long summit created lasting memories and sparked new avenues of thought. Her essay can be read below.

Speaking of Y.E.S., the 2012 Youth Education Summit takes place June 25 – July 1 next year and the application deadline of February 1 is fast approaching. The application, along with additional information about the summit, can be found at the Youth Education Summit's website here.

2011 Youth Education Summit participant Kaley Read on NRAblog

At some point in our lives we will have a moment, or series of moments, that will define us. These experiences will somehow change our lives and change who we are. Defining moments are unique to us all. It can be the good moments in life that shape who you become or it can be the bad ones that change your life forever. The good experiences in my life have been the ones that have defined me the most. Particularly, the 2011 NRA Youth Education Summit (YES) was a series of defining moments that changed my life.

The Youth Education Summit is a one week trip to Washington D.C. put on by the National Rifle Association (NRA).The purpose of this trip is to teach youth about the Constitution and the importance of being an active citizen so that they can become knowledgeable and involved members of society. Forty-five high school juniors and seniors from across the country attended this trip. The caliber of people that I met on this trip was remarkably high. These were truly America’s finest youth. Although I learned a lot about my country and our government, I learned more about myself and who I want to be from the people I met.

The Youth Education Summit was a life changing experience. I met youth who shared my goals and outlooks on life. Being able to associate with others so much like myself was a nice reassurance of who I want to be. So often in life we can lose sight of ourselves because we may be surrounded by others who do not share our ambitions. However, when we have the opportunity to share common goals and values we are inspired to stay true to ourselves and continue down the paths we want to be on.

I benefited greatly from my experiences at the Youth Education Summit. It changed my life in several ways. I became more interested in government and the Constitution. I became more focused on learning new things. I was encouraged to hold tight to my goals and make them become reality. The biggest impact, however, came as a total surprise to me. I met several students who were the same religion as me and through their faith I was able to become closer to God and stronger in my religion. These experiences truly changed my life and made me a better person.

We will all have something in our lives that changes us. It defines us and we will never be the same. These moments are different for everybody. They can be bad or they can be good. I am thankful that my defining moment was a good one and for the people that made it that way.

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