An initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Scouting for Civics

Have you ever wondered how a classroom project can turn into a life-changing experience? For Nathan, a Texas student, that’s exactly what happened when he participated in the National Civics Bee®. 

Nathan’s involvement began when his school counselor explained the National Civics Bee® essay application process to his social studies class. He thought it sounded interesting, so he decided to give it a shot. For his essay, he chose to write about a topic that really mattered to him: the problem of people driving under the influence in his community in Houston. His dedication to the cause shone through in his essay, showcasing the Bee’s ability to connect classroom learning with real-world challenges. 

Once he advanced to the next round, Nathan shifted his focus toward learning civics facts. He actively engaged with the study materials provided to him and enlisted his parents’ help by having them quiz him. This dedicated approach underscores Nathan’s commitment to independent learning—an invaluable skill for his professional development. 

“I wasn’t the only person I knew who got in. I enjoyed going into it with friends that I had,” he recalls, highlighting the camaraderie fostered by the Bee, as some of Nathan’s classmates also qualified for the live quiz round. He later noted that the most memorable part of the whole experience for him was sharing the spotlight with his peers and getting to hear what they chose to write about in their essays.  

Upon reflection, he also acknowledged the natural nervousness that comes with the presentation portion of the competition. “I was prepared, but I don’t think anybody could not be nervous about that,” referring to standing up in front of a panel of judges. Nathan credits his extracurricular activities with calming his nerves and shaping his success. As a part of his local Scouts BSA troop, he honed his leadership skills and public speaking confidence, translating well to the National Civics Bee® stage.  

While Nathan didn’t have a class dedicated to just civics, his participation opened his eyes to the importance of civic knowledge and engagement. “I definitely have a lot better understanding of what civics is and just how important it is,” Nathan shared. He witnessed firsthand the dedication of individuals working to improve their communities, realizing that his voice mattered too. “You are able to make an impact, and I understand that more than I did previously.”