I've read most of the comments here & really hope I can help someone who has also read & now doesn't want their child to compete with NAM or who had a "bad" experience. This might be long but please read on!
My daughter received an invite because she was recommended by someone at her school. We decided to attend the open call because she was a terribly shy child. My wife is the same way sometimes & she didn't want our little girl growing up that way so off we went, hoping she would, at the very least, come out of her shell! My daughter met with the directors & other NAM folks to interview while my wife & I watched videos about the pageant. We met reigning & former queens. While there, my daughter was giving my wife a really hard time - didn't want to interact with anyone & was trying to hide instead of talk & take pictures like the other kids. From that, we decided that she was going to participate because we knew it would be a problem for her later in life!
Fast forward to pageant weekend... keep in mind we couldn't afford pageant coaching & my wife & didn't have any experience with this type thing. We paid the required fee, which I should add was all laid out at the open call BEFORE we decided to enter. We also paid for her to enter casual wear modeling - again NO experience or training. Our daughter, a Black kid in Louisiana (and I only mention that to dispel any thoughts about racial inequality), walked away that weekend as 1st runner Princess as well as 2nd runner in casual wear! Talk about fair! Most importantly, over the summer & the next school year, our daughter became a cheerleader, acted & danced in two school productions AND became more confident & outgoing than we ever imagined was possible, winning most outgoing cheerleader on her squad & several science fair awards... one was for overall best presentation! All that - thanks to the confidence she gained competing in National American Miss!
Someone mentioned not being refunded when they were unable to participate. We had a similar incident. We paid all the fees to attend nationals in 2011 after our daughter won Princess 1st runner up but at the last minute, weren't able to attend due to a family emergency. My wife called the national office to make them aware of the situation & they were more than accommodating. True, we didn't receive a refund BUT they held over ALL the money for my daughter to attend nationals in 2013!
Fast forward again to 2015... I can't stress enough the skills & confidence our child has gained! Academically, she excels! She has always earned straight A's BUT due to her being so outgoing & brave, she's stepped into bigger & better things! She's in the gifted & talented program, has earned the Duke TIP scholar award twice, the presidents award for academic excellence as well as has been accepted into a STEM program working with Apple & our local flagship university which offers countless opportunities for college & she's only in 6th grade! As for her pageant journey, she has walked the stage with Miss USA & Teen USA contestants, competed in local Miss America prelim pageants and become friends with the current Miss Teen USA, Katherine Haik! And since competing in her first NAM pageant in 2011, my daughter has been in the Top 10 three times, won 1st runner up actress, placed in casual wear twice & 2nd runner up top model as well as received the title of Miss Personality 2014... yep, that terribly shy kid! This summer (2015) at state, she won 1st runner up casual wear model, best art (4th year) & best resume. She also won the actress title & *** Queen 2nd runner up! We will be attending Nationals again & she is so excited... and proud!
Yes, my wife & I are our daughter's biggest cheerleaders! We pray with & for her! We encourage her & let her know every chance we get that she is courageous, amazing, talented, beautiful (because she truly is all those things & MORE) and everything in between. We instill that in her because we need her to believe in herself. But because moms & dads are supposed to say that, sometimes kids need to hear it from somewhere else, based on things they've accomplished so they know it's not just parents blowing smoke! With national American miss helping us to help our daughter know she can truly do anything, she now believes it. She's realized her passion for science & art & is constantly working on her skills. She believes in herself & title/crown or not, she is a winner. National American Miss helped us produce that in our child... they can do the same for you! Even she knows it & that's why she plans to continue to compete until she ages out! Hands down, best organization (not just pageant system) any little girl can be a part of!