How Do I Prepare?
Though much of the ALA VGS experience will become clearer to you once you arrive, there are a few steps you can take to be more prepared for the week:
• Get plenty of rest before coming to ALA VGS. Every day is full and requires 100 percent of you, both mentally and physically.
• Realize that you need not be an expert in government to excel at Girls State. Consider ALA VGS a learning experience and remember that you have been chosen by your high school based on your abilities and leadership skills.
• Current issues play an important role at ALA VGS, from determining party platforms and writing bills to debating issues. Read your local paper and stay abreast of current state issues and you will be ahead of the game, particularly when campaigning for office. Issues of particular interest at Girls State are education, health care and budget concerns on city, county and state levels.
• If you plan to run for office, bring art supplies and have your ALA VGS campaign committee help. DO NOT prepare by making campaign materials. Preparing campaign materials before you arrive at ALA VGS is strictly prohibited.
• Know your particular sponsor before arrival. Citizens are encouraged to write a thank-you note to the persons responsible for providing this wonderful experience to them.
What Do I Bring?
We have compiled a printable checklist to help serve as a guide when you pack for Girls State.
Registration Forms (bring completed forms to registration)
• Medical form, completed and signed by parent or guardian (no doctor’s signature is necessary), with copy of insurance card attached
and $50 Activity Fee
• ALA VGS rules and release, signed by citizen and parent or guardian
• Lipscomb release form, signed by parent or guardian
• Samsung application, if you are eligible – please visit our Samsung info page for details and eligibility requirements.
• $50 Activity Fee
• Six days worth of casual clothes
You will possibly spend some time outside, so nice shorts (no cut-offs) are appropriate. If your school allows you to wear shorts, follow those guidelines for what is acceptable. Casual clothing may also include pants, nice jeans, skirts, and comfortable shoes.
• Two to three nice outfits
You will wear these outfits for various evening activities, when we have notable speakers, or if you decide to run for office. This can include nice pants, khakis, skirts, or a casual dress or sundress. (If you bring strapless tops or dresses, please include some sort of sweater or jacket in case you are participating in ALA VGS proceedings.)
• One to two dresses, suits, skirts, or nice pants
These should be something that you would wear to church or another special occasion. This is not semi-formal.
• A pair of khaki shorts
You will wear these shorts with your Volunteer Girls State T-shirt which you will receive upon arrival at Girls State. This is your ALA VGS uniform and will be worn for your ALA VGS photo.
• Work out or gym wear including shorts, T-shirt, and gym shoes
This is for the ALA VGS Olympics festivities.
Since citizens will walk from activity to activity, comfortable shoes are a necessity. You should bring shoes for your less casual outfits and tennis shoes for VGS Olympics. Shower shoes or flip-flops will come in handy in the dorm.
• Athletic shoes
If you require a particular type of shoe for basketball, volleyball, running or other athletic competition, please bring those shoes with you.
• Knee/leg braces, knee pads if needed for athletic competitions
The ALA VGS Olympics present the opportunity for some citizens to play basketball, volleyball, and other sports. If you require a knee or leg brace or knee pads for athletic events, bring those items with you.
You will need sleepwear for six nights. There will be night meetings in dorms where loungewear will be appropriate.
Toiletries and Other Personal Items
Please note that there are community showers on the dorm floors.
• Shower caddy
• Soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
• Towels and washcloths
• Flip-flops for the showers
• Bed linens – Bring twin-sized extra-long sheets, a warm blanket and/or comforter and a pillow. Please note that the air-conditioned dorm rooms can get very cool at night.
• Necessary medication prescribed by your physician or over-the-counter medication that you take on a regular basis or take occasionally (i.e. Advil or Tylenol)
• Umbrella and/or a rain jacket
• Sweater or jacket for cool, air-conditioned meeting rooms
• Alarm clock
• Watch. Cell phones will be left in dorm rooms during the day.
• Musical instrument(s) – The Chorus provides opportunities to play during musical presentations.
• Clothes hangers – Each room provides hanging space and drawer space for storing clothing.
• Pens, pencils, and notebook paper
• Tote bag or backpack – You will be walking from activity to activity and may want to carry personal items and your notebook with you.
• Snacks, if you choose
• Water bottle, if you choose
• Laptops, netbooks, iPads, or tablet computers may be brought to Girls State, and you may use these items on a limited basis for programmatic purposes like running for office and research. ALA VGS is not responsible for your personal property.
Veterans’ Personal Care Donation
The 1998 ALA VGS Legislature passed a resolution that requires ALA VGS to provide community service donations each year. We provide these items to a local VA hospital. The veterans are in constant need of these items.
Please spend no more than $10 in total for a sampling of these items:
• Ground coffee for use in traditional coffee machines (not instant)
• Sugar and sweetener in canisters or packets
• Powdered creamer
• Laundry detergent for high-efficiency (HE) washing machines
If you choose to bring these items, pack them in a separate bag. They will be collected at registration.
Though your sponsorship fee covers the expense of your meals and accommodations, please consider the following when deciding the amount of extra money to bring:
• $50 Activity Fee
This fee covers the cost of your ALA VGS T-shirt and city tax (used for items needed in your city through the week) and will be payable at registration.
At ALA VGS, your meals are covered by your sponsorship fee. At some meals you will be allotted a certain dollar amount which should cover the meal. However, if you go over the set amount, you will be responsible for any overages. You also may want to bring change for snack vending machines located in dorm buildings.
You will have the opportunity to purchase items from the ALA VGS Bookstore. Items may include sweatshirts, t-shirts, shorts, and other souvenirs. Prices range from $0.50 to $50.00. The bookstore accepts checks and cash.
Please note that all citizens are encouraged to lock dorm rooms with the provided key. If a citizen loses her key, she will be charged approximately $60.00.
Do not bring the following items, which are unnecessary during your stay at ALA VGS:
While You Are at ALA VGS
ALA Volunteer Girls State staffs each city with four to six counselors (all previous citizens of varying ages) who serve as mentors, facilitators, and chaperones for the week. Counselors also facilitate every event and assembly. Aside from being good sources of information because they all have experienced ALA VGS as citizens, counselors are uniquely qualified to lend a hand when you need it.
ALA VGS has a registered nurse on staff to address minor medical issues. Because it is a strenuous program, we are not prepared to manage health concerns that will limit your full participation.
ALA VGS Rules
The safety of our citizens and staff is of the utmost importance to the ALA VGS organization. To ensure a safe and effective learning environment, staff and counselors utilize and enforce these guidelines, among others:
• No citizen of ALA VGS is permitted to leave the campus after registration, except in the case of an emergency.
• No citizen of ALA VGS, counselor or staff member is allowed to be on campus alone.
• Citizens will show respect and pledge the American flag and show reverence to God and country.
• Citizens may not have visitors while at ALA VGS.
• Because all citizens are under the age of 18 and the campus is a non-smoking facility, smoking is prohibited while at ALA VGS.
• Do not prepare for ALA VGS by making campaign materials. Preparing campaign materials before you arrive at ALA VGS is strictly prohibited.
• Please see below for the ALA VGS cell phone and electronic communication policy.
• All citizens, counselors and staffers will be treated courteously, with respect and cooperation.
Assemblies and Meetings
As stated above, you’ll have the opportunity to listen to speakers during assemblies. It is important to treat these assemblies, speakers and your fellow citizens who run for office with respect, as each speaker has important information to present to you. In addition, your counselors will review proper flag etiquette and other guidelines prior to your first assembly.
While at ALA VGS, the security and safety of our citizens is the top priority. Each citizen will be part of a group receiving continual supervision from a team of counselors and staff. No citizens are ever allowed to walk alone on campus to any activites, day or night. Lipscomb provides front desk security in each dorm and monitors dorm access with security cameras. In addition, campus police are present as we walk to and from group events.
Organization of ALA Volunteer Girls State
In order to provide citizens as much of a “real-world” government experience as possible, ALA Volunteer Girls State is organized as follows:
• Each citizen is assigned to one of two fictional political parties (Nationalists and Federalists).
• Each of 14 dorm floors in two dorm buildings represents a city, comprised of approximately 40 citizens and four to six counselors.
• There are seven counties, each comprised of two cities, and seven legislative districts, each comprised of two different cities.
• All counties together make the state of Volunteer.
• To maximize the experience, citizens from the same high school or family are placed in different cities.
To actualize the city, county and state governments, citizens can run for various offices. Examples of the offices for which you can run are:
• City government – mayor, city councilwoman, city judge
• County government – county mayor, county councilwoman
• Party politics – party delegate, party chairwoman
• State government – legislator (senator/representative), Supreme Court justice, governor
To complement the government aspect of ALA VGS, the organization provides several fun, more relaxed activities during the week. These include:
• ALA VGS Olympics – Made up of various sports and activities for both the serious and novice athlete alike, ALA VGS Olympics is a fun, fast-paced competition.
• Fast Song – More details of this singing competition will be available once citizens arrive at Girls State, but Fast Song gives each city the opportunity to utilize both the creative and organizational talents of its citizens.
• Girls State Quiz Show – During this game-show-type competition, citizens can showcase what they’ve learned throughout the week.
• ALA VGS Chorus – Citizens can audition for the ALA VGS Chorus. Three citizens from each city are selected to join this special group and will participate in many of the ALA VGS assemblies and special events.
Contacting ALA VGS
Prior to the week of Girls State, the best way to contact the organization is to submit any questions you have to us via our contact page. We will respond as soon as possible.
Cell Phone and Electronic Communication Policy
You may use cell phones, smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and MP3 players in your dorm room during break times. These breaks will be rare since the program is packed with activities. Cell phones, smartphones/PDAs – either for calls or text messaging – and iPods or other MP3 players will not be allowed in assemblies, meetings or other activities, including walking between activities. Phones are not available in the dorm rooms, but campus phones can be made accessible for emergency situations.
Social Media and Website
During the week, we post photos and updates online so that your parents and friends will be able to follow along with the activities taking place at ALA VGS. Besides our website, you can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/alavgs, and on Twitter as @alavgs.