By: Dash Wedergren

Identity. It’s something we naturally cling to and seek out as humans. Whether we find it in our faith, our education, our nation, our skills, our geographic region, our family, or in our values we are always looking to define and redefine ourselves while exploring our relationship with the rest of the world.
Arriving here to Boys’ State can–in some ways–feel like a stripping away of every tangible sign of our identity. We have left almost everything up to this point that has defined us from our family and friends to familiar places and faces.  Without these comforting symbols that clearly establish ourselves and our relationship with our community, it can be difficult and unsettling to adjust to the new environment. Little did we know that before even arriving to Boys’ State the unsettling void of identity would be partially filled by our association with an entirely new organization: our towns.
Towns play a vital role in Boys’ State in everything from general elections to disciplinary action. In the chaos of the first day towns provide a comforting base and a entity bigger than ourselves to belong to. They provide meaningful first connections, a group of familiar faces among the large crowd, and a place to return to at the end of an exhausting day.
While towns provide a powerful shared base, the collective town identity is only as strong as the individual identities and personalities that contribute to it. When we arrive we inherently bring bits and pieces from our personal identities that support our town and provide diversity.
Beyond introductory comfort, towns will surely continue to play a large role in the Boys’ State experience. The bonds that have already been forged will be strengthened as the week progresses and towns find distinct experiences and relationships to define themselves.
Perhaps the most defining part of a town’s identity is its rivalries with other towns, so acknowledge and embrace the differences as it strengthens the entire community.

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