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Youth Conference

Seminar Planning Guide:  
The Congressional Seminar

Seminar Planning Guide for Students and Parents

Student Information Guide

Congratulations on your acceptance into the Seminar. We look forward to having you with us for this unique experience to study American government, history and the United States Congress. You will soon join the ranks of over 60,000 participants who have taken part in Washington Workshops programming in the past.

Each seminar session includes enrolled students from small towns and large cities encompassing twenty five or more states. All in all, a truly varied learning experience takes place, one affording maximum student participation through Q&A sessions and seminar activities. The Washington Workshops Foundation is proud of our tradition of success, student safety, and practical experience while conducting these award-winning student leadership seminars in our Nation’s Capital.


All of our seminars provide a unique opportunity to learn more about today’s issues firsthand from members of Congress, Congressional staffers, Executive branch officials, media experts, lobbyists, and government organizations. Stressing democracy in action, our program encourage students to challenge these men and women on today’s issues and to provide their own insights into helping resolve the complex challenges that confront our society.


Washington, DC is a very exciting, dynamic and fast paced city and you will have the opportunity to be immersed in the buzz of our Nation’s Capital.  While the hourly and daily news cycle can even be challenging to keep up with, you and your colleagues will enjoy a diverse series of experiences through our various expert speakers, site visits, important collaboration in the Model Congress simulation along with time to make new friends and discuss the compelling and complex policy ideas of the day.  

The US Congress will also be immersed in and busy discussing, debating and attempting to forge consensus on important policy issues.  Your time on Capitol Hill will offer unique access to the daily work in the House and the Senate and the opportunity for you to gain a first-hand experience of the legislative process and bring these experiences to your work in the Model Congress.  All this and more will be taking place while experiencing the pulse and energy of Washington, DC amidst the backdrop of our national memorials, our collective laboratory of learning within the amazing Smithsonian Museums, the Newseum, the National Archives, the US Supreme Court, the White House and Library of Congress.   

One of the most important experiences of the week will be your own personal journey and the opportunity to become a more empowered, engaged and informed citizen. The program schedule is demanding, challenging, thought provoking and fun and you will be embarking on this journey with new friends from across the United States and the international community. 


To successfully prepare for your time in Washington, DC we suggest you arrive with an understanding of the distinct roles and responsibilities of our three branches of government and the policy issues and politics driving the discourse. Begin by reading your local and national newspapers and news magazines. The Economist, Time, USA Today, The National Review, the New York Times and the Washington Post are excellent print and online sources. We also suggest tuning into a variety of different news media to evaluate the different perspectives and discussions taking place from experts and media pundits:  PBS and News Hour, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC.  There are also some excellent sources of online content at, and 

If you would like to read more about the US Congress, we feel that the following US government publications, available at no charge through your Representative, would be helpful: How our Laws are Made and The Congressional Record (any date). The Congressional Record is a daily record of Congressional proceedings. It is also available at the Library of Congress website at ( Congressional Quarterly (CQ) is a journal covering proceedings on Capitol Hill and is an excellent source of information as well.


As the seminar’s core experiential learning tool, the Model Congress seeks to educate students about the legislative process. We use the United States Congress as a basis for our committees. Students simulate the duties of a member of the house, highlighting the pressures, limitations, and complexities surrounding policy-making in America. Each student will be assigned to a committee as a freshman member.  There, students will elect a chairperson and develop legislation based on assigned topics. Several students will also fill Hill-specific roles requiring them to engage others through lobbying, coalition building, and caucusing.  Together, students must work hard to compose a logical, debatable bill while also gather enough votes to pass it through legislation.


The seminar schedule is meticulously designed, planned, and implemented. It is important to recognize we strive to adhere to the final program schedule. However, last-minute changes can and do occur due to the schedule for the US Congress, or the likely event the President of the United States (POTUS) and the motorcade are on the move in the streets of Washington, DC. Your patience and understanding in this regard are greatly appreciated and will assist in making your experience as memorable and exciting as possible. 

As part of our ongoing effort to keep you informed about the program schedule and the model congress, you will receive periodic email updates from your Program Director and Model Congress Advisor. Please be sure to check your spam or junk email folder to insure you receive all of the latest updates about the program, and don’t hesitate to contact our office should you or your family have any questions. 


Though we use no standard textbook during the program, you will soon find out that everyone in DC stays well informed of current events. The more you know, the more you can engage in the city the way the locals do – the best way to experience all that DC and DC alone offers. 

We also suggest the following websites: (information specific to the House of Representatives) (information specific to the Senate) (the Judicial branch site of the Supreme Court) (the Library of Congress site) (the official site of the White House and the President)


(Join our online community—just click the Facebook and high school pages)


For those of you who may be interested in further reading, we suggest the following publications: 




The Washington Workshops will provide a complimentary and rotating shuttle service from Reagan National Airport (DCA), to the American University campus between 9 am and 5 pm on the arrival day and from 6 am to 5 pm on the departure day. If you arrive at DCA, please collect your bags at baggage claim and proceed to the Travelers Aid desk on the baggage claim level. Representatives from the Workshops Team will be there to assist you and connect you with the shuttle.




The best and most affordable method of transportation from BWI airport is the Super Shuttle. Please visit for more information to book your transfer and get a better idea of the total cost of your trip. There is also Uber, Lyft, Taxi and sedan service available from BWI, however, the fare for these options is significantly higher.




The best and most affordable method of transportation from IAD airport is also the Super Shuttle. Please visit for more information, to book your transfer, and get a better idea of the total cost of your trip. There is also Uber, Lyft, Taxi, and sedan service available from BWI, however, the fare for these options is significantly higher.



By Car


If you are traveling by car, to American University, it can be easily found through Google Maps, Mapquest, or a GPS device. If you would like to have a printout of the University campus and detailed driving directions, you can also visit the university’s website.

American University

Letts Hall

4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20116


By Train


The Washington Workshops will provide complimentary shuttle service from Washington’s Union Station and onto the college campus between 9am and 5pm on the arrival day and from 6 am to 5 pm on the departure day. If you arrive at Union Station, please collect your bags at baggage claim and proceed to the Amtrak Ticket desk on the main level. Representatives from the Washington Workshops will also be at assisting you and connecting you with the shuttle.


By Bus


If you are traveling by bus, take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi from the bus depot to the American University campus using the information provided by staff. Ride-sharing and taxi stands are located outside the central door of the bus depot. Please give taxi drivers the correct provided university address, including street number and neighborhood. Do not assume that because they are local taxi drivers they will know where all of the university campuses are located, bring the address with you, to ensure proper drop-off.

American University

Letts Hall

4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20116


Driving a personal vehicle 


If you drive your car, you may leave it parked at the university campus. Student car keys must be deposited with Workshops staff until the end of the seminar to comply with seminar/housing regulations. If you are planning to drive, you are required to arrange for a parking pass in advance and notify Workshops Staff with the appropriate information (make, year, model, and license plate information).   Additional parking fees apply from American University parking services.


When You Arrive On Campus


You should arrive for check-in, and registration at the university between 10:00 am and 5:30 pm. When you arrive, room assignments, name tags, and seminar materials, including the schedule for the week, will be distributed.  After registration, we will have dinner in the dining hall. Our orientation session follows.


SPECIAL NOTE:  The American University Summer Housing Team will give you a room key and key card for building access at check-in.  Please maintain the whereabouts of both keys throughout the program week and prepare to turn them during the check-out process on the final day of the program.  Additional fees apply for lost keys.

Departure Day


The seminar will officially end on Friday, the following breakfast at 10:00 am. We require the rooms to be vacated by the established checkout time. After this time, participants may remain in the lobby but must have all their belongings with them. Late-day departures should contact our office in advance.


For those leaving from a train station, the bus depot, or any of the Washington, DC area airports, we will help put groups together for shared taxis or the Super Shuttle to minimize cost. 


Room Assignments and Keys


Seminar room assignments will be given at registration. Rooms will be double occupancy (you will have a roommate). If you have a roommate request and did not indicate it on your application, please make a note on the information sheet to be returned to us.




Breakfast and dinner will be served in the campus cafeteria. *Lunches during the week are at your own expense, however, you will receive a lunch stipend when you check in, and lunch will provide during the scheduled event on June 28, 2022. For other meals, we will usually eat at food courts or cafeterias in the museums and Federal buildings during these times. You may expect to pay $14-$18 for each lunch. Plan on purchasing your own lunch each full day of the seminar except for June 28, 2022.


Spending Money


Please expect to bring spending money for the lunches not included with the seminar, meals on days of travel, transportation to/from university from the airport, souvenirs, and personal items, if needed. It is also a good idea to bring some extra spending money or a credit card in the unlikely event of unexpected purchases or delays while traveling.


Campus Facilities


During free time, students often enjoy the athletic fields, basketball court, or gathering in the TV lounge. Snack machines, soda machines, payphones, laundry facilities, and in-room Wi-Fi and Ethernet Internet connections are also available. Wireless Internet is usually available throughout the dorms and campus areas but is not guaranteed. 

Dorm Room + Linens

The dorm rooms are located in Letts Hall and students will share a room with one additional person by gender.  Each room has two desks, two closest, two beds and the bathroom and shower facilities are communal, but with privacy partitions. Each floor has a commons room/lounge. 


Sheets, a blanket, and bath towels are provided by the university.  We do recommend you bring an additional towel or face cloth if you have a favorite from home for extra back-up.   

Medical Care and Facilities


GWU, Sibley, and Georgetown Hospital are near to campus and available for all health needs, including emergencies. Most services are chargeable to the medical insurance of each student. First aid stations are also located in all of the buildings visited, and urgent care and minute clinics are located throughout the DC Metro area.


All students are required to have and provide proof of medical insurance in case of emergency.


The Workshop’s program team is not authorized to administer and will not distribute any type of medicine or give medical advice. However, if at any time a student or parent requests a visit to a pharmacy, doctor, hospital, or clinic, the request will be granted immediately. 



A Program Director, Program Leaders, Overnight Chaperones and Program Assistants will implement the seminar schedule and bring your experience in Washington, DC, to life. The program team is experienced, with knowledge of the program, its operations, and the information you need to make your experience in Washington safe and enjoyable.  


The WF program team will accompany the participants to all activities and will reside in the university dorms during the seminar. The Washington Workshops team has many years of expertise and experience in guiding and supervising student groups in and around Washington, DC.


The WF Program Team will act as liaisons for the Workshops during the program week and will address all questions and problems. The WF team is responsible for maintaining the schedule and enforcing the terms and conditions and seminar standards of the program.


The WF team is responsible for the supervision of the entire group of seminar participants. The WF team is a valuable source of information about the city and the things you will experience during your week here. If you have any problems, questions, or concerns during the week, please don’t hesitate to bring them to the attention of a member of the Workshops staff. 

Full-time security personnel, maintained by the university, are on duty 24 hours a day and will assist the Workshops staff in matters of supervision and security. Students will be chaperoned from the moment they arrive at the university on Saturday until the program ends on Friday. It is crucial that you listen to and follow the instructions of the Workshops staff and university personnel throughout your stay. 

INDEPENDENT TIME:  Students will be offered independent time to explore museums and exhibits scheduled throughout the seminar experience, but we require students to be in buddy groups of at least 4-6 people to enjoy the experience together and look out for one another during these selected times. 





To ensure the success of the program and all its events, you will be expected to attend all seminar activities unless otherwise arranged with the staff in advance. This expectation is primarily due to detailed preparations and security measures that are necessary for the running of the program.


Also, please remember that many of the places you will be visiting are office buildings where people work. These individuals must move around much more quickly than possible for a group of our size. With this in mind, we need to keep our noise level low and walk in a manner so as to not block hallway traffic.


You will also need to be aware of and prepared for substantial security measures and checkpoints within the office buildings. The Workshops Foundation seeks a broad spectrum of speakers with a wide range of political philosophies from a great variety of geographical areas. These officials are gracious enough to volunteer their time and share their opinions, so please treat them with the appropriate respect. There may be some speakers with whom you disagree.


While such is expected, please remember to express your disagreement in a respectful manner. It is essential that you be on time for all appointments. It can be very distracting to speakers to have people arriving at various times or in the middle of the presentation. If you arrive late for an event, you may be barred from participating.


When asking a question of a speaker, always stand up and state your name and where you are from before asking your question. Remember that what you might think is a small question may actually be a very important point and chances are good that others want to ask the same question. Do not be afraid to ask questions, and remember that one of the most interesting aspects of the seminar is the exchange between today’s officials and you - the next generation of our nation’s leaders.


This is one of your best opportunities to learn about the issues that you find important. Finally, remember that other students will want to ask questions as well.


Questions should be brief and to the point. Note: giving speeches or making political statements in the guise of questions will diminish the experience for both you and for your fellow participants.  





We will be taking a professional panoramic photo of the seminar group at one of Washington, DC’s landmarks such as the US Capitol Building or one of the memorials. You and your new friends will receive a group photograph at the end of the seminar. The photo is included in your program tuition. The Washington Workshops Foundation Student Information Guide Seminar Planning and Information Guide for Parents and Students





It is important to note that you will be visiting government offices and meeting with professionals who have volunteered their time to help you achieve the best possible experience. In keeping with this professionalism, we would like to challenge you to take on the role of a young professional in Washington, DC, by looking the part by dressing appropriately.


The types of dress required of the program are described below. You will be informed each day of what the expected dress is for the following day. Two weeks prior to the seminar, we will provide a day-by-day schedule indicating the appropriate dress for each day to help you prepare.




LADIES: Suit, dress, skirt (knee length at least) or dress slacks (no jeans), blouse (no tank tops or spaghetti straps without a sweater or blouse on top), comfortable dress shoes (no tennis shoes), no hats, no Capri pants,*all tops must cover the shoulder.

GENTLEMEN: Suit, coat or blazer, tie, collared shirt, slacks or khakis (no jeans), comfortable dress shoes (no tennis shoes), no hats, shirts always tucked in.



LADIES: Collared shirt, blouse, or professional-looking shirt (no tank tops or spaghetti straps), slacks or khakis (no jeans), dress skirt, comfortable walking shoes (no flip-flops), no shorts, no hats, no Capri pants, *all tops must cover the shoulder.

GENTLEMEN: Collared shirt (button-down or polo), slacks or khakis (no jeans), comfortable shoes (no flip-flops), no t-shirts, no shorts, no hats, shirts always tucked in.





LADIES: Nice-looking jeans (no rips, stains, or frayed ends), appropriate tops (no tears, holes, or offensive writing), tennis shoes, no revealing clothing, *all tops must cover the shoulder.

GENTLEMEN: Nice-looking jeans (no rips, stains, or frayed ends), appropriate tops (no tears, holes, or offensive writing), tennis shoes.



AT THE UNIVERSITY:   While at the university, you may relax, dress down, and wear hats and more comfortable clothes, but please remember that offensive or revealing clothing is never appropriate. Pajamas are not allowed to be worn outside of one’s room. Shoes must always be worn at the university when outside the room. 




While visiting Washington, you will have an excellent opportunity to visit many outstanding colleges and universities in the area (If you are interested in politics and/or public policy as a career, what could possibly be better than spending your four years of college studying in Washington, DC?).


We recommend, however, that if you plan on visiting schools, please do so either before or after the seminar ends. If you want to visit a college, it is a good idea to contact the admissions office before you arrive to make an appointment.


Some of the websites for the schools in the area are listed below:


American University


Catholic University of America


George Mason University


Georgetown University


George Washington University – 

University of Maryland

Johns Hopkins University


We realize that some students may have friends and family in the Washington, DC area. Visits will be granted; however, such visits must be arranged in advance so the Workshop’s office is aware of the visit. Please contact our office for more details.





Washington, DC weather in late June is warm and unpredictable. Expect temperatures between 75°F and 90°F during the day and cooler at night.


As our lovely and fair city was originally built on a swamp (Foggy Bottom), please also prepare for the humidity as it makes temperatures feel warmer than expected.  Drink plenty of water each and every day. 


There is always a chance for wind and rain during the week. Just prior to your departure, check Washington, DC area weather to help you know what to expect. 





The following is a list of items that are very important to bring. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but may help when packing.


Checking off each item as you go may be helpful. 

  • Mobile phone, charger 


  • Laptop or Tablet (not required, but helpful if you want to take notes, or create presentations for Model Congress.


  • Personal Identification (Passport, Drivers License, Learners Permit or State ID)


  • Copy of COVID Vaccination Card, or Negative PCR Test with an official time stamp no earlier than 72 hours prior to check-in at AU.  


  • Personal Spending Money: Debit, ATM, Credit Cards or Cash


  • Camera


  • Appropriate Clothing (Please review the dress code guidance above.


  • SHOES - COMFORT OVER STYLE! For shoes, go for comfort and style and not just style....we walk approximately 25-30 miles during the seminar week


  • Toiletries including soap and shampoo, and a personal hygiene kit


  • Shower shoes or flip flops


  • Umbrella/Rain Jacket

  • Extra towl, washcloth as a back up.


  • Your sense of adventure and thirst for knowledge! 


If you haven't done so already, please complete the following before you travel to Washington, DC.  Failure to submit these items could result in the cancellation of your enrollment :


  • Medical Information, Travel Information and Seminar Information forms before you begin traveling to Washington, DC.  Please visit this Google Form to complete:



We look forward to welcoming you to Washington, DC!

The Workshops Foundation

2101 L Street, NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC 20037

Phone:  (800) 368-5688

Fax: (202) 965-1018


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