The American Legion sponsors 50 Boys States throughout the continent and Puerto Rico. Each Boys State provides a learning and growing experience for boys who have completed their junior year in high school. The methods to select boys to attend the program vary from state to state and even from Post to Post, but all share the common goal of providing the most beneficial experience to those who appear to have the most potential for leadership and service.
The American Legion hopes to foster patriotism, citizenship, and leadership through its weeklong Boys State programs. Many of the states’ programs have slight differences, but we feel that the Department of Oklahoma’s is among the very strongest.
At Oklahoma Boys State, we emphasize not only the elective democratic process, but also the legislative, bill-writing activities found throughout our government. As the week passes, each Oklahoma delegate finds himself in a variety of government situations at the city, county, and state levels. Well-rounded athletic and academic programs complements the government simulations to provide a complete week of learning both in and out of the classroom.
Each delegate is given the opportunity to pursue both elected and appointed positions in his Boys State City or at the county or state level. Whether or not the delegate chooses to pursue an elected or appointed position, he will serve as either a state representative or senator (appointed at random prior to the session) and will be authoring, debating, and voting on Boys State legislation in his respective county legislature.
Boys State works because of the nearly 90 staff members and about 700 delegates that make it work. The Director and his staff work throughout the year to improve each session and each one does seem to be better than the last.
Only males who have successfully completed their junior year of high school and who have at least one more semester remaining are considered. Previous participants of a Boys State competition are not allowed to attend a second session. Only those who illustrate leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty and service in their schools and community should be considered. Merit and ability are the basis for evaluation during the actual citizens selection process.
Boys State competitions are in compliance with federal handicap laws. Most programs require a medical/parental consent certificate signed by a parent and registered doctor. The selection process often differs in Legion departments.
The ideal method is for schools to recommend lists of eligible candidates to local Legion posts. The post would then conduct interviews and select their representative(s) for the program.