"CSLC is hot to go, say H-O-T-T-O-G-O, ahoo! Hot to go! Ahoo, hot to go!"

This is the cheer that was echoing through the hallways of LBP school at this years' 26th Annual Canadian Student Leadership Conference! Where Canadian leaders throughout the country are selected to go, mingle, and learn how to be the leaders of tomorrow!

This is starting to sound dangerously like an advertisement/newspaper article, so I'm going to stop now.

Cliche though the words may be, they were true. They ARE true. And this year, our student council advisor picked two students from our school to go to CSLC. One of them was an eleventh grade girl named Abby, and the other was me.

It was the experience of a lifetime. Seriously, it was! This year, it was held in Montreal. I live in Saskatchewan! Mrs E, Abby and I boarded a plane at 6am last Tuesday. We flew to Toronto, then to Montreal. I had never ridden a plane before (that I could remember.) It was so cool! It's weird to think about how some people, businessmen and women, fly all the time for their job. When we boarded the plane, Abby and I were poking about everywhere. We flicked past all the things on the screen mounted in the seats, examined all the magazines and safety cards and took pictures and exclaimed and generally looked like the small-town hicks we are. Other people would take their seats, pull out a book or a Blackberry, and didn't look up or out the window when we were taking off.

I was imagining doing this all again in the future. I would so love to take a trip to Europe someday with my camera and tour and take pictures everywhere. The top three places I want to go are 1) Italy 2) Rome and 3) Greece. Someday I want to go to Australia, too. That would be such an amazing experience.

I decided I want to go to Montreal again too! In truth, we didn't actually see too much of the city. We spent most of our day in the school, which was so much fun. I met so many people, and it wasn't like a typical school where you have your ten or so people that are bursting with spirit. From there about half or more of the kids participate self-consciously in events, and the remainder are 'too cool' to look like they're having fun at a school event.

No. At CSLC (we called it see-slick), every single person was selected to go there because they are a good leader. Every person has made a difference in their school, and every person had school spirit enough for five. In the cafeteria, a table would stand up and chant, "WE'VE GOT SPIRIT YES WE DO, WE'VE GOT SPIRIT HOW 'BOUT YOU?" and point to the next table, who would try and top their cheer. We would get involved in huge circles playing games like Ninja and Pony (I'll explain later) and we were an enthusiastic audience. Seriously. We gave every speaker something like three standing ovations. We would stand when they entered the stage, we would stand again if they cracked a good joke, and again at the end.

This year, the theme was "Big Top" (that's "Grand Chapiteau" for you French folks) and they hired a performer almost every day. There were acrobats and jugglers, and this one guy named Scott Hammell whom I now adore. He's an escape artist! Ever heard of Houdini? He was like him. Honestly, I didn't know people still did that. But he got in the Guinness Book of World Records when he performed a crazy stunt. He was bound in a straitjacket, then wrapped in fifty feet of chains and secured with four padlocks. Then he strapped bungee cords to his boots, and was lifted something like 7, 200 feet in the air by an air balloon. He struggled out of it in 54 seconds. And he was only eighteen at the time!!

Needless to say, he's awesome. He performed this again for us, the straitjacket, chains, and padlocks, and even the hanging upside down. He had to pop out his shoulder to struggle out of the straitjacket-- it was somewhat disgusting. Ugggh.

Also, he's a hypnotist. I love hypnotist shows!! We had one at our school last year, but I was a freshman and too nervous to volunteer. I was too nervous to volunteer this time, too. I hope that, if we get a hypnotist again at Christmas, I'll get the guts to go up. He's also a motivational speaker for Free the Children.

CSLC inspired me so much. Before Montreal, I think my goals were something like this: 1) publish a book 2) play guitar. Something like that.

Now, my new ambition is to speak French. I'm seriously considering an exchange trip in grade eleven. Canada is a bilingual country! I want to be fluent en Francais et Anglais.

The other thing I want to do is go on a trip to benefit a third world country. One of those trips where you travel to a place like Haiti or Thailand and build houses and make friends with orphan kids. I really want to do that now, maybe after I graduate I could do something like that. I should get involved with Free the Children. We had Marc Kielburger give a presentation to us. You may not know him, but he is Craig Kielburger's brother. This is the kid that started the foundation called Free the Children. Craig started this when he was, like, twelve years old. It's now international and has built 600 schools for children who had no way of getting an education.

We did get to see some of Montreal. On Thursday, we participated in an Amazing Race. IT WAS AMAZING. Downtown Montreal is so beautiful! The buildings are all old and brick, with carvings and cool windows. Tres belle. Someday I'm going back there, when I can speak French, and I'm sbringing a camera for more photography.

The last night of CSLC was sad. We had to leave all these new friends! And it wasn't like our provincial conference, when people lived two hours away, or four, or five. I said good-bye to people that lived in Quebec City, B.C., New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Newfoundland. We spent the last night running around and hugging everyone. I was sad, but it was nice, too. There was a dance, but me and three other people just hung out in the lobby of Palais de Congres and just talked. We told each other random facts about ourselves that we hadn't gotten to in the past five days.

It was such an amazing experience! I had never felt that feeling before. I guess it would be like if you moved to a new city, and you started at a new school and you could be anyone you wanted. I knew one person out of 700 teenagers there. I could be anyone I wanted to be.

Just as an example. In my town, most of the girls dance. It's just what you do. Ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, etc. I had been in dance almost all my life, but I quit this year. I just don't enjoy it. I'm now focusing on SRC, music, and volleyball. A lot of people in town, when I say "I'm not dancing this year," they just go "what?"

Because that's how a lot of people know me, I guess. But at CSLC? I never mentioned that I used to dance. They didn't know me as a former dancer. They knew what I told them about. We had an exercise when we had to say the things we were passionate about to a stranger in the audience. I turned to a girl beside me from Nova Scotia and said, "I'm passionate about art and music." Because it's true. That is what I enjoy. This girl didn't know that at home, I play the Sims 3 and used to dance and play volleyball and don't like math.

I'm home now, and I'm still feeling inspired. Instead of wasting my time today, I picked up my guitar and practiced for a while. The fingers of my left hand are sore now, but I feel satisfied. I learned something, I strengthened a skill, I didn't just sit and watch TV or waste time on Facebook.

So, I now know more about being a leader. I want to change my school. I want to learn a new language, and I want to help those less fortunate than me.

If you ever have the chance to participate in a chance like this, you shouldn't even hesitate. You should grab at the chance. It's in Newfoundland next year, in case you were wondering. :-)


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