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BOYS' STATE CURRICULUM


Description of Program Curriculum/Activities
Boys State is conducted in 49 Departments of The American Legion. Hawaii does not conduct a program. As separate corporations, Boys States vary in content and method of procedure, but each and every Boys State adheres to the basic concept of the program -- that of teaching government from the township to the state level. A Boys State program, generally, is fashioned after the government structure of the respective state. Political offices and agencies that serve the people of a state would also exist within a Boys State. Every Boys State operates under a two-party system with instruction provided in the organization and operation of political parties at different levels of government. On the average, a Boys State program covers a period of seven days. Enrollments vary from as few as 25 to well over 1,400 in a single program.

Operation of a Boys State
The supervision of activities at Boys State and the responsibility for the full program is entrusted to its director. He is assisted by an Administrative and an Instructional staff that usually includes volunteer educators, attorneys and other professional people, many of whom are drawn from the membership of The American Legion.

The Administrative staff has responsibility for providing services such as a Boys State bank, a post office, a public relations office, a first aid station, and a Boys State store.

The Instructional staff consists of those individuals responsible for the educational and recreational aspects of the overall program. In this group are the classroom instructors, the counselors, and advisors for those phases where the Boys State citizens 'learn by doing'. They are selected for their experience in the field in which they are expected to instruct and would include lawyers, judges, journalists, law enforcement personnel and civil servants.

City Counselors are assigned to groups of up to 50 boys that comprise a 'city' within a Boys State. These Counselors have the physical welfare of the young men as their chief responsibility, with the supervision of city activities and elections also a part of their overall duties. American Legionnaires and National Guardsmen fill many of the counselor positions.

Political Organization
Upon arrival at Boys States, the citizens are assigned to one of two political parties, the "Pioneer" and "Frontier". Though some states may use other labels to identify the two parties, they are in no way reflections of the two major political parties in American government, but are established to allow instruction and participation in the two-party system of government. An effective political system is created in each Boys State to operate from the precinct level through the State committee. A breakdown of the political organization to its smallest components and graduated to the state level may look like this in many Boys States:
  • The City
  • The County
  • The Judicial Circuit
  • The Senatorial or Legislative District
  • The Boys State
Instructional Program
Here is found the greatest variance in any function that makes up the overall Boys State program. However, these variances are only in procedure since each Boys State adheres to the basic concept of teaching government from the township to the state level. The Instructional Program is carried out in three phases: limited classroom instruction, functional activities, and general assemblies. It is important to note that about 50 percent of the program hours of Boys State are devoted to government instruction and practice.

Classroom Instruction is held on subjects such as law, civil service, election procedure and parliamentary procedure. Other special 'schools' are held to inform candidates of the duties of the office they seek, and, following election and appointment of officers, to instruct in the operation of the respective offices held by the citizens. Some states use general assemblies to instruct on many phases of government with individual instruction given for particular Boys State officials.

All citizens of a Boys State receive instruction in Parliamentary Procedure, and every citizen is expected to participate in a special school such as law, civil service, election officials, peace officers, office holding, civic planning, public safety, etc., when such school is provided. Classroom instruction includes detailed explanation and instruction on the legislative, executive and judicial procedures of the respective state government.

Functional Activities start with a caucus or other method of nominating candidates for city offices and conclude with the election and inauguration of the Governor of a Boys State. Here is the heart of the instructional program. The functional activities (citizenship practice) such as elections, caucuses, conventions, operation of the courts, legislative assemblies, administration of law enforcement, and public welfare are government in operation. These activities take a considerable portion of the time allotted for instructional purposes and constitute the chief means through which citizens 'learn by doing'.

General Assemblies are for all citizens and are intended as a means to spur enthusiasm and spirit, inspiration and patriotism, political fervor and a real zeal for 'the American way'. In short, every citizen becomes and integral part of Boys State, assuming responsibilities and performing duties either as an elected or appointed official, or otherwise fulfilling an assignment entailing the duties of responsible citizenship.