The American Legion Boys State program is the second oldest youth program sponsored by The American Legion. It was started in 1935 in Springfield, Ill., by two Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, with the purpose of teaching youth the ideals and objectives of the American form of government. Every state except Hawaii participates in the Boys State program.
To be eligible for nomination or appointment as a Boys State delegate, the candidate must be a male high school student, have successfully completed his Junior year, have one semester remaining, have not previously attended Boys State, sign the Boys State pledge, be recommended by his school officials or home school facilitator, have parent/guardians permission to attend, and be certified by the sponsoring American Legion post.
The sponsoring American Legion post should interview and make the selection of the delegate. American Legion post or other community-minded organizations pay the fees or tuition with no expense to the young men. We would like to get equal representation from all areas of a state, so the more schools that participate, the better for the program. To be selected, a candidate must demonstrate a sincere desire to attend, strong leadership, outstanding scholastic achievement, good character, competitive spirit and the ability to work with others.
Boys State objectives are to develop:
- Civic leadership and pride in American citizenship.
- Interest in the detailed study of government.
- A full understanding of our American traditions and belief in the United States.
- A determination to maintain our form of government.
The final objective come from our preamble: "To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to community, state and nation. To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy."
Each American Legion post should have a Boys State chairman with application information. You may also check your department website or headquarters.
Many Boys State programs have a strong Sons of The American Legion presence in their programs. But if you would like to be more involved with the program, contact your post commander or Boys State chairman to see how you can help. The American Legion Boys State program has made a positive impact on thousands of young men over its 76 year existence and will continue as long as we promote and participate.