by: Matthew Wachtel
There are forty-nine different Boys State programs across the country that gather annually to educate rising seniors about their local and state governments. Each Boys State offers unique daily activities and hosts differing numbers of delegates. I interviewed Ben Lipson, from New Hampshire, and Yosua Siguan, from North Carolina, both of whom were Boys’ Staters in 2017 to learn about their experiences and compare it to my own.
First, a few similarities between the three. Cornhusker and New Hampshire Boys State both send their delegates to their state capitol building at the end of the week. North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys State have town, county and state elections. North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys State both have at least one sport. All three have newspapers to depict daily events. Beyond the daily activities of these Boys State programs, one major similarity between all three, that both Yosua Siguan and Ben Lipson touched on, is the massive gaining of knowledge and experience in the realm of politics and leadership. I, myself, can relate to this sentiment as Cornhusker Boys State has taught me a great deal about Nebraska issues and what form of leadership best fits my personality.
Next, the differences between the three. Cornhusker Boys State is actually the last state that holds joint sessions with its American Legion Auxiliary counterpart, Cornhusker Girls State. Also Cornhusker Boys State has four sports whereas North Carolina has just basketball and then New Hampshire has none. New Hampshire has 78 delegates attend, North Carolina has 250 and Cornhusker Boys State has 450. North Carolina Boys State has a speech contest. Additionally, before attending North Carolina Boys State you have to write a bill whereas at Cornhusker and New Hampshire Boys State you write bills when you get there. At New Hampshire’s program one big job of the executive office after they are elected is to pass a budget whereas North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys’ State both don’t pass a budget. The North Carolina session bills pass through a house and senate legislature then it must be approved by the governor and his cabinet. This is in contrast to the Cornhusker Boys State unicameral system.
Boys State programs differ throughout the country. In my interviews I learned that while they all might be different in certain aspects and the same in others they are all unique. The American Legion continues to politically socialize the youth of America and through their Boys State programs, young men from around the country can attest to the success of this mission.