History and Purpose


Boys’ State is a plan for training in the functional aspects of citizenship.  Its purpose is to teach the youth of today constructive attitudes toward the American form of government. Boys’ State attempts to show that our form of government has not outworn its usefulness; that all a democracy needs is an intelligent citizenry and a clean, honest and impartial administration responsive to the will of the people.

This program originated in Illinois in 1935, has been adopted by the National organization of The American Legion, is now in operation in 49 states and this year will enroll 20,000 boys.  The 2024 school will be the 82nd session of Cornhusker Boys’ State, as the activity was reluctantly discontinued during World War II and COVID.

Fundamentally Dedicated to Nebraska’s Veterans


Boys’ State purports “to educate our youth in the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship.”  It is wholly a plan for training in the practical aspects of government.  It is functional in that applications of the principles of democratic government are made in every possible way.  Boys’ State should be thought of as being a mythical 51st state with a constitution, statutes and ordinances constructed by the citizens to govern themselves.

Citizens of Boys’ State not only will be required to review knowledge already acquired concerning the political machinery of a commonwealth, but they will find themselves performing exactly the same functions as real officeholders in the everyday world. In Boys’ State, citizens organize their own city, county and state governments.  They choose their own officials in accordance with regulation election procedures.  They learn the duties of the various city, county and state offices.  They introduce and argue their own bills in a legislature. Justice is administered by their own law enforcement agencies and courts.  In Boys’ State, the young citizen has the opportunity to learn for himself that his government is just what he makes it.  Here each boy “learns to do by doing.”



The entire program is non-partisan and it is not military in any sense.  Problems will be considered without reference to any existing political party and will be free from propaganda. The sole purpose is to enable the boy to grasp the meaning of some of the responsibilities which he will be called upon to assume when he becomes an adult.

It should be distinctly understood that the selection and assignment of these boys to parties is in no way connected with the existing political parties in Nebraska.  The “political parties” in Boys’ State are called “Federalists” and “Nationalists.”  They are purely mythical and none of the principles typifying any of the existing parties will be adopted by the parties in Boys’ State.


The mornings and early afternoons are given over to the educational program and the functioning of the various governmental offices.

In the late afternoon, every citizen of Boys’ State is encouraged to participate in a varied program of recreational activity.  A schedule of competition is arranged in the suitable sports. Band, chorus and newsletter staff are also options.  An interesting program is arranged for the evening.


The administrative officers, counselors, and supervisors of recreation, who are in charge of the program, are well-trained and experienced leaders of boys.  They are men of high ideals who are recognized as being responsible persons in their respective communities.


A corps of lecturers drawn from among the outstanding citizens and public servants in Nebraska will present special lectures on subjects pertinent to the program of instructions during the week.


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