by Alan Bowne

alan.bowne @gmail.com
 

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AMERICAN LEGION LENAPE POST 211

 NEW JERSEY BOYS STATE PROGRAM

American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students. It is a participatory program where each participant becomes a part of the operation of his local, county and state government.

Boys State has been a program of the American Legion since 1935 when it was organized to counter the Fascist inspired Young Pioneer Camps. The program was the idea of two Illinois Legionnaires.

 

At American legion Boys State, participants are exposed to the rights and privileges, the duties and 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.

The Boys State delegates will spend six days, at Rider University learning how to establish a democratic government that copies our existing form of government. They will hear from a variety of speakers that may include the Governor, a representative from the New Jersey State Police, the different branches of the Military, representatives from Congress, and many other notables.

The delegates will have a very busy week with each day starting at 6:00am and concluding around 11:00pm. The boys will attempt to set up a national government and seek various elected offices from among their peers, and if elected, will place their top supporters in key governmental positions. Much like our own government organization.

 

To qualify as a candidate for the New Jersey Boys State Program, boys must be completing their junior year in high school, have a minimum of a B average, be willing to participate and socialize with some of the most up and coming teenagers from across the state. The program  sponsors about 800 boys each year and there is no cost to any of the boys to attend. The local American Legion Posts usually pay the entire cost of event unless there is support of sponsors, either by organizations or individuals. The Sayreville Lions Club has sponsored delegates as well as Legionnaire Chaplain Charles Vuocolo.

During the program week, the delegates will select two of their peers who will become the representatives of  New Jersey Boys State Program and go on to Washington D.C. and participate in the National Boys State Program the following week.

 

The New Jersey Boys State Program is a stepping stone for many of the future endeavors for these young men. They create friendships during the program that will last a life time. Each delegate and alternate delegate that is chosen may use this information when completing their resume and note that they were chosen for the New Jersey Boys State Program.