State Capital Building - Sacramento

Traveling with Children - Sacramento
- Summer Edition -

Many families are finding that vacation destinations
can be more accommodating and safer for their children
than previously thought.

By: Sheri Castello, ChairMom
Photos by Michael Castello

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Governor's Mansion SacramentoMammoth Mountain Ski Resort Sacramento was never a stop along the way to Shasta Lake on our summer road trips with our children. We knew it was the capital of California where the state's governor resides. Our son Jonathan was going to a Teen Leadership Event and we were destined to find out exactly what Sacramento had to offer.

Sacramento is the capital of the U.S. state of California, and the county seat of Sacramento County. Located along the Sacramento River and just south of the American River's confluence in California's expansive Central Valley. With a 2007 estimated population of 460,242, it is the seventh-largest city in California. Sacramento is the core cultural and economic center of the Sacramento Metropolitan Area which includes El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo counties and has a combined population of approximately 2,136,604. The region has also been cited as one of the ten "most livable" regions in America in 2004, and the city was cited by Time magazine as America's most integrated in 2002.

We brought our son Jonathan to the collage for the Teen Leadership course in which he would be rooming with another student for three days in the college's dorm. TLA (Teen Leaders of America) has been around since 1991 and has helped thousands of teens find their inner strength in ways they can contribute to their community as well as themselves. We took our daughter to the Citizens Hotel to check into the refurbished 1920's style building with close access and view of the Capital building. We also decided that we wanted to stay in a hotel that was unique, and had a view of the capitol building. It was gorgeous! This is a boutique (which means an intimate, usually luxurious or quirky hotel environment) hotel “offering 20th century grace redefined by 21st century urban luxury.”

Governor's Mansion SacramentoOn our first day out to see the city we planned a route that would include a walk into the Capital Building and Governor's Mansion. When we entered the Capital building you are immediatly struck by the size of the rutundra and capital dome high above. There are many tours going on and some of the volunteers are helping visitors find their way around the building. Even though there are hour long tours available we asked one of the volunteers if they could give us a short look around. Well, it never hurts to ask, the volunteer woman named Julia slipped on a plastic glove and was kind enough to give us not only a tour but a private one that included roped off areas from the 1800s when they state's budget was only 8 Million dollars. Every desk had a spittoon (a receptacle used by those chewing and dipping tobacco for spitting excess into) and many areas had shotguns sitting at the ready. As was the state at that time in this country's history, this was a place that was accessible to everyone and state employees were at the ready for anything that might have arisen.

Sacramento Railroad - Ole TownFrom our Capital building tour we walked through the vast courtyard of fresh cut hedges and well grown trees. Many monuments and dedications adorn the grounds and a family could spend a good part of the day walking its beautiful walkways. We then proceeded to walk just a few blocks to the governor's mansion which has been keep in it's present condition since 1967 when the Reagan's (Future President Ronald Reagan was California's govenor from January 3, 1967 – January 7, 197) were its occupants for only three months. At one time this mansion was at the center of the most prominent area in the city but after years of change the area in the 1960's become somewhat undesirable and the Reagan's decided to stay in another area of the city. What we were allowed to see was a time when a 21 room mansion only had one bathroom! Most of the homes at the time had an outhouse (a type of toilet in a small structure separate from the main building which does not have a flush and is not attached to a sewer) and the mansion was one of the first to have its own plumbing. We were given an hour tour of the building and there were many great stories of the families that lived there over the decades of California History. The folling day we had heard from many locals that the Old Town area and Train Station was a "must see" and that became our quest on our second day in Sacrament.

We decided to walk to Ole Town Sacramento and see the city along the way. We were very impressed at the city's efforts to rebuild the area with tourism in mind. It really is a beautiful city and the pictures that you see were taken with just my iPhone. In the future we are considering a "real time" trip with at the moment comments and pictures that everyone could Ole Town Sacramento School Housefollow using Twitter and Facebook. We did exactly this for our family members across the country and it was every entertaining for them so why not try this for our visitors.

We also saw a replica of a school house from the turn of the century. Jessica was surprised at how different the school was compared to today. Like, one room for all grades, the chalkboards and chalk with one small piece of fabric used for erasing, the bonnets the girls wore and many other interesting things. After visiting Old Sacramento we started our 15 block hike back to the Citizen Hotel. We had an early dinner and retired to our rooms for the evening as we were quite exhausted from the day. We later enjoyed a late dinner via room service, which is always fun for Jessica. The following morning we had a quick breakfast in our room, checked out of the hotel and headed over to Sacramento University for the parent seminar portion of the NTLP camp. So glad we attended. Our speaker was DJ Peterson who has over 30 years of experience in youth development. This course was about how we as parents can help develop positive youth through asset building and gave examples of how parents, schools, communities and youth in California are doing so. He is also a magician which added extra flare and humor into his very interesting and informative course. I have to say, I walked away from that seminar feeling very inspired and encouraged to help our youth stay positive, have a purpose and feel loved. After lunch the parents were invited to the NTLP Inspiration Awards and closing for our teens busy, fun-filled and inspiring weekend.

It was interesting and a little surprising to see and hear of so many accomplishments that our teens have already acquired. And it was very fun to watch our son up on stage participating in a group dance with the other teens. Something he would not have even considered doing in the past. I am very proud of him. He has written the article on NTLP himself. For those of you who have read my story in Chairmom Tells Her Story, this is that little, precious, baby that my husband and I struggled with as our first born and all the little bumps along the way. He has grown up to be quite an interesting, caring and very special young man that I know will be a huge benefit to our community, his family, and to the world. He has an innovative, creative and considerate mind that will carry him very far in life.

The National Teen Leadership Program
Written by: Jonathan Castello
It's Fun to Stay at the N-T-L-P
(Sung to the melody of the song "YMCA" by the Village People)

JonathanThis summer (from July 31st to August 2nd), I participated in the National Teen Leadership Program. I really didn't want to go at first... but in the end, I was forced to go, and I have to say I had a blast. (Doesn't that just figure?) I had to stay in a dorm room with a roommate (I wasn't too excited about that), but everyone who went listened to three motivational speakers: Paul Parsons, Calvin Terrel, and Brett Eastburn. There was a lot of other great stuff, too, but I'll focus on the speakers here.

Paul Parsons is a hypnotist! He had a show on the first night of the program, and he invited maybe twenty-five volunteers from the audience to sit in chairs on the stage. He explained what was going to happen, and then turned on a red lightbulb in the middle of the stage for everyone to focus on. Long story short, most of the people on stage (and some of the audience!) were hypnotised, and after people were shuffled around, he had the hypnotised people do some really funny (and sometime strange) things. For example, he put on some music and went to some of them randomly, taking their arms/legs/head and getting them started on some movement to the beat, like clapping or head-nodding. It was very bizarre to see this happen to everyone. Later on, he convinced one person that they were Michael Jackson, and a few others to be band members. That was insane - some people actually got autographs after the show!

Brett Eastburn is an amazing man who was born with no arms and no legs. He also believes that he has no handicaps! And having seen him in person, I can say that I agree with him. He looked so normal, from the moment I saw him even! He's not paraplegic; he can move just fine. It's just -how- he does things that's out of the ordinary. He can play basketball, football, and he was ranked 4th nationally in a wrestling tournament. He's even a great artist (he drew a Garfield face live with markers), and he has a great sense of humor. Check out this YouTube video:

I had a great time at the NTLP, and it was very enriching and a whole lot of fun. I recommend it to any highschool-aged teen; you should go at least once, if not several times. There's a lot more going on there than just the speakers, like workshops, small groups and activities, and even a karaoke/dance party.

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