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Boys State and Girls State Programs Through The American Legion

Updated on May 26, 2018
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

A Great Program for Teens Interested in Politics or Law

The American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary sponsor two programs for high school Juniors each year. One is called Boy's State, and one is called Girl's State. The American Legion starts scouting out appropriate students in March and April of each year.The students must be nominated by their high schools, and depending on the amount of money the American Legion Post has available, anywhere from 1 to 3 boys can go, and 1 - 3 girls. There are also alternates chosen in case someone is not able to go. Students should be interested in politics, history, or law to represent their high school. Students who have a history of leadership, good character, good grades and service in their schools and community should be considered. High schools can usually choose who to send, although, in some American legions, a list of recommended students is required from the local high school, and the American Legion interviews the students and chooses the finalists. The cost for each student attending is $250 but is paid for by the local American Legion Post.

The 5 to 6-day sessions take place at a college or convention center within each state except Hawaii. It takes place during the summer after their junior year. The chosen participants sleep in college dorm rooms and are feed cafeteria style throughout the program.The Boys State and Girls State program were developed in 1935 and 1937 respectively as an alternative to the socialist "Young Pioneers" camps springing up which were based on communism/socialism. The idea of these programs is to teach youth about today's government, so they will be more informed as adults, and have a better understanding of how state and local governments work so that maybe someday they can make a positive difference in our country's government. During the sessions, students are split into two different political parties, the Federalists, and the Nationalists. Students learn about legislative sessions, court proceedings, and political campaigns through assemblies, mock trials, and political speakers who give presentations. Students take part in mock campaigns, debates, and elections to state and local positions. At the end of the program, students will have learned about state and local government.

Adult volunteers from the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary and past participants in the Boys State and Girls state sessions help put on future sessions. At the end of each Boys State session. At the end of each session, two boys and two girls from each state are chosen to go to Boys Nation and Girls Nation in Washington D.C.

To be chosen as a Boys States/ Girls State participant is quite an honor and a valuable learning experience, especially for students wishing a career in politics.

Boys State and Girls State programs have a national reputation and are quite a feather in the cap of a high school participant. Colleges look favorably on students who have participated in Boys State and Girls State programs. Students who fit the previously mentioned criteria and are interested in a career in politics or law should see their guidance counselor or visit the Career Center at their school to find out how to be recommended to attend this program.

Watch a Video About Boy's State and Girl's State

© 2012 Karen Hellier


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