What is Oklahoma Boys State?
Oklahoma American Legion Boys State is a non-partisan intensive week of leadership, government, and patriotism sponsored by the American Legion of Oklahoma. Delegates to Boys State have just completed their junior year of high school and have been selected by their local American Legion Post as a representative of the best of their community. Boys State was established in the 1930s as a way to counter anti-American activity during the pre-World War II era. It was so successful as a citizenship training activity that is remains the premier program of its type in the United States.
For one week, Oklahoma’s finest young men, Legionnaires, and other outstanding volunteers gather on the campus of NEO A&M College in Miami, Oklahoma where they study the government of Oklahoma through classroom work and various simulations. Simulations include a mock legislature, state executive offices, and a court system. In addition to classroom work, instruction also features a Leadership Academy and a Law School for lawyers, judges, and law enforcement officers, and an Emergency Management/Response school where delegates learn how communities and the state respond to crisis.
Delegates are randomly assigned as members of two synthetic parties, Boomers and Sooners. These two parties in no way represent existing political parties and the platform of each is solely the creation of the members. The program is non-partisan and non-political in every sense. Delegates will consider problems and exercises without any reference to existing political parties or philosophies. The sole purpose of the Government Practicum is to enable delegates to grasp the meaning of the responsibilities they will be called upon to assume as adults. An integral part of the program involves outstanding speakers from all areas of government as well as patriotic speakers who inspire delegates to an increased love and respect for their country.
America’s veterans are recognized and honored during the week. Delegates are encouraged to interact fully through the simulations as well as through city, county, and state activities. Boys State features a band, a choir, a talent show, and a wide variety of sports and other activities. Delegates are encouraged to bring small instruments and appropriate sports equipment and clothing. They live with about sixty others delegates on college dormitory floors called “cities” where, in simulation, they organize and operate their own government prior to establishing county and state governments. New friends, new ideas, and reinforced values are just a few of the byproducts of this excellent week. In addition, college credit is available for Boys State and delegates can earn two or three hours by enrolling with NEO A&M College and completing the assigned tests and written work.