AMERICAN LEGION BOYS STATE
What Is American Legion Boys State?
As a program of The American Legion, Boys State developed from the concept that youth should be offered a better perspective of the practical operation of government; that the individual is an integral part and commensurately responsible for the character and success of his government. As such, it is an activity of high educational value, born out of a need for youth training in practical citizenship.
American Legion Boys State is easily classified as a leadership action program where qualified male high school juniors take part in a practical government course designed to develop in the young citizens a working knowledge of the structure of government and to impress upon them the fact that government is just what they make it.
How And Why Boys State Started
Boys State was born of a desire to counter the Fascist inspired Young Pioneer Camps of the 1930's, where boys of high school age were being taught that democracy had outworn its usefulness and should be replaced by a new form of government, namely Fascism.
The Boys State program was formulated in the minds of Legionnaires Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, both educators and both members of The American Legion of Illinois. It was their desire to start a counter movement within the ranks of American youth that would develop a better understanding of our system of government, and to instill in our youth a desire to preserve it. The format for Boys State was laid out by Harold Card and fashioned from a method employed by him in earlier years to properly police and organize a Boy Scout camp. Shorthanded on staff, he permitted the boys to govern themselves, hold an election and elect a mayor and a city council. Appointments were made to cover positions like police, fire, health and sanitation officials. Harold Card quickly found that the boys became so enthused in carrying out their "city" duties, they almost neglected their Scout assignments. The boys were learning by doing.
The first Boys State was conducted at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Illinois, in June, 1935. Now, 61 years later, the program is still providing that opportunity to young men...to learn by doing, and through this time well over one million young men have experienced American Legion Boys State. Though Fascism no longer poses a threat in today's world, our way of life is still threatened by forms of government alien to our democratic ideals, and by apathy among our own citizens. The American Legion continues to sponsor and to conduct Boys State in the belief that young citizens who are familiar with the operation of our system of government will be better prepared to uphold its ideals and maintain it for future generations.
Objectives And Goals
A program of this scope encompasses many important objectives. Those which we, The American Legion, feel are most important and for which we strive the hardest are:
Description Of Program Curriculum/Activities
Boys State is conducted in 49 Departments of The American Legion. Hawaii does not conduct a program. As separate corporations, Boys States vary in content and method of procedure, but each and every Boys State adheres to the basic concept of the program - that of teaching government from the township to the state level. A Boys State program, generally, is fashioned after the government structure of the respective state. Political offices and agencies that serve the people of a state would also exist within a Boys State. Every Boys State operates under a two-party system with instruction provided in the organization and operation of political parties at different levels of government. On the average, a Boys State program covers a period of seven days. Enrollments vary from as few as 25 to well over 1,400 in a single program.
ABOUT ALABAMA BOYS STATE
The American Legion believes there is no better way to assure the survival of our republic than to train our young people in the ideals and objectives of American government. By teaching youth to understand and appreciate the basic principles involved in the successful management of a democratic society, we can keep America strong and ensure freedom for future generations. These are the distinguished longstanding objectives of American Legion Boys States.
They are accomplished through a unique summertime program, one that emphasizes not classroom lectures or textbook learning, but participation and personal experience in a model state, complete with its governing bodies and elected officials.
Boys State was founded, and its courses of instruction designed, to supplement the information taught in high school civic classes. Boys State teaches that our form of government is good, but that its preservation depends on intelligent, informed and loyal citizens in combination with an honest and impartial administration of government activities.
Young men chosen to be Boys State participants can look forward to a wonderful and challenging experience. All who attend can acquire a better understanding and regard for two of our nation's greatest benefits: freedom and democracy.
The purpose of Boys State is to educate our youth in the duties and privileges of American citizenship. It is a program of training in the practical aspects of government. The Constitution of the State of Alabama and its statutes are the patterns from which the fundamental laws of Boys State are developed. The responsibilities and duties of citizenship are taught at Boys State.
Citizens of Boys State will not only receive their knowledge of the political machinery of a republic, but will find themselves doing exactly the same chores as done by real office-holders in the every day work. They choose their own officials in accordance with regular electoral procedure. They learn the duties of the various city, county and state officials. They introduce and argue their own bills in their own Boys State Legislature.
The Boys State study of government will be directed by authorities in Political Science and Government. The responsibilities and duties of each state officer are studied in the academic course.
Upon registration, the boys are placed in political parties within their cities. The political parties will write their platforms and nominate their candidates for the State offices. The cities and counties will make the laws that govern their cities and counties and elect their officials.
Boys Staters who are elected or appointed to an office will assume the role of that particular office. Each boy will have a role in the operation of the Boys State Government.
The Boys State Legislature will go into session and pass on bills that have been prepared during the week.
An organized recreational program is scheduled to permit each person in each city the opportunity to participate in the sports program. Boys should bring a cheerful attitude, cooperative spirit and a willingness to have fun. A Boys State Band and Chorus is organized each year.
A specially designed Boys State Lapel Button and Certificate of Attendance is awarded to each boy who full participates in the program to its successful completion.
SELECTION & IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The American Legion has a proud tradition of gathering the most outstanding boys in Alabama for its Annual Boys State. Careful selection of those who attend has maintained this high standard. In order to contribute something to his local school, only outstanding boys who will be in the Senior Class next Fall are eligible. Future leaders are especially desired. The school authorities should have a part in making selections of boys for Boys State, as they have all records and are familiar with the boy's character, leadership ability and traits of good citizenship, which is a precaution to ensure the welfare of all who attend. Be sure that the boys selected read the "Boys State Pamphlet", so they understand the program and purpose of Boys State.
American Legion Posts have the responsibility of sponsoring boys to Boys State. They are given preference in making reservations. In the past, however, many civic clubs, Sunday School classes, P.T.A.'s, other patriotic groups and individuals have sponsored boys through their local Post by paying the fee and furnishing transportation money. These groups are encouraged to continue this most worthy contribution to Alabama Boys State.
In all states where the program is now in effect, organizations such as Rotary, Lions, Elks, Kiwanis, Exchange, Shrine, Eagles, Junior Chambers of Commerce, Young Businessmen's Clubs, Optimist Clubs, school organizations and other fraternal, patriotic and civic groups have assisted the Legion in carrying out this program. Legion Posts not desiring to sponsor a boy should offer this opportunity to some local group.
It is desirable to have at least one boy from every community in Alabama in attendance at Alabama Boys State.
A High Honor:
To be selected to attend Boys State is one of the highest honors conferred on a high school student. Educators and leading citizens endorse the citizenship training program sponsored by The American Legion. Appreciative of the high public approval it has received, Boys State officials make every effort to continue the high standards of its leadership, its program and the conduct of the boys who attend.
Students who are descendants of war-time veterans are eligible and can apply for one of the ten (10) National Samsung Scholarships worth an expected $20,000.00 each. Applications will be sent with each student's Boys State acceptance letter. Montevallo University offers a full tuition scholarship to the twelve (12) Boys State Citizenship Award winners. Each student that successfully completes Boys State can apply for other scholarships from Montevallo, set aside for Boys State attendees. National Samsung Scholarship Applications must be completed and turned in at Boys State.
Boys Staters should bring casual clothing, swimming trunks, tennis shoes, athletic equipment, musical instruments, cameras, and usual toilet articles. Dress will be Boys State T-Shirts (furnished by Boys State) and shorts, blue jeans or slacks. Note: Slacks, not blue jeans, must be worn for the visit to the State Capitol. Boys must also bring their own sheets, blankets, pillow cases, towels, and soap plus toilet articles for the week of Boys State.
Dormitories on the campus house all Boys Staters each year. Meals are served in the cafeteria. Each Boy Stater should bring a nominal amount of money to cover snacks or an extra T-Shirt, etc.
Two outstanding students of Alabama Boys State are selected each year to attend Boys Nation, sponsored by the national organization of The American Legion. Boys Nation is held in Washington, D.C., at a date later in the summer of Alabama Boys State. Boys Nation citizens participate in the program as it is projected on a national scale. All expenses are paid by the national headquarters, The American Legion, for those selected to attend.
For further information contact: