Boys State has been a program of The American Legion since 1935 when it organized to counter the Fascist inspired Young Pioneer Camps. The program was the idea of two Illinois Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, who organized the first Boys State at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
At American Legion Boys State, participants are exposed to the rights and privileges, the duties and the responsibilities of a franchised citizen. The training is objective and practical with city, county and state governments operated by the students elected to the various offices. Activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, chorus and recreational programs.
High school juniors are selected by local American Legion Posts to attend the program. In most cases, expenses associated with attending this program are paid by a sponsoring American Legion Post, a local business or another community-based organization.
American Legion Boys State is currently 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.
The American Legion Auxiliary’s marquee Girls State program, first presented in 1937, is one of the most respected and coveted experiential learning programs presented in the United States.
The program epitomizes the ALA’s mission to honor those who have brought us our freedom through our enduring commitment to develop young women as future leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism. The young women become knowledgeable of the democratic process and how our republic form of government works at the state and national levels.
Each summer, approximately 20,000 young women participate in weeklong ALA Girls State programs across the nation. Every American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program operates with the same patriotic values through a nonpartisan curriculum where students assume the roles of government leaders, campaigning in mock parties (often called “Federalists” and “Nationalists”) to become mayors and county and state officials of their ALA Girls State. The program is a weeklong immersive learning experience, often held on a college campus where girls live in “cities” within a dormitory-like setting. The learning, experience, memories, and friendships last a lifetime.
The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a similar program for young ladies called Girls State. For online details visit www.legion.org