Hundreds of young conservatives are descending on Houston this week, for the Young America's Foundation National Conservative Student Conference. The event is now in its 43rd year, but this year marks a history-making turn. "This is actually the first year that the National Conservative Student Conference is not being held in Washington, D.C.," says Kara Zupkus, spokeswoman for Young America's Foundation. "Just because of all the COVID guidelines, we thought it would be easier to move it to Texas."
The event could be described as summer camp for politics, especially for conservative students who often feel marginalized on college campuses. "Hundreds of college students from around the country convene in one location to hear from the leaders of the conservative movement, and really arm themselves with conservative ideas to bring back to their campuses in the fall," says Zupkus.
The conference is highlighted by nightly headliner speeches, which this year include former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Ted Cruz, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, and commentator Ben Shapiro.
During the day, attendees have plenty of other options. "We have full sessions where they can debate each other on the issues of the day," says Zupkus. "Then we have activities like freedom karaoke and freedom yoga."
The event runs through Friday at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston. All full-time slots are sold out, but there are part-time passes still available for college students who want to attend. Nightly speeches are also streamed at the YAF YouTube channel. "We really want to make sure we reach as many people as possible with these ideas," says Zupkus.