Legion Boys State begins June 15 at SMSU

Approximately 350 boys from across Minnesota will participate in the 66th American Legion Boys State, which will be June 15-21 at Southwest Minnesota State University.

“That’s a good number, approximately what we had last year,” Mike Bredeck, Boys State director said in an SMSU news release. “We’ve always managed to have a lot of fun while teaching the boys about the political process.”

This is the eighth year that SMSU has hosted Boys State. SMSU is committed to hosting the annual event through 2016.

“SMSU has been the perfect host for us since being selected as the site eight years ago,” said Bredeck. “Hosting Boys State in Marshall exposes the boys to a fantastic university located in a fantastic community.”

Boys State is an exercise in applied government. Participants will learn, hands-on, about government, patriotism and citizenship. They can participate in city, county and state government activities and elections, including the campaign process. A Boys State governor will be elected at the end of the week.

All Boys Staters are seniors-to-be at their respective high schools and are sponsored by American Legion posts across the state.

“This year, we’ll have more of an emphasis on the delegate process, the two-party system where the boys will learn the basics of the city caucus and the country and state conventions,” said Bredeck. “I talked to a 2013 participant at the state convention, and he said it was Boys State that got him interested in politics. He went home, attended his county convention, was elected a delegate, and ended up being a state convention delegate.”

While attending Boys State, participants will be introduced to a number of speakers, including Henry Shea, past Boys State governor and professor of political science at the University of St. Thomas; Paul Thissen, Minnesota House speaker; Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State; and last year’s Boys State governor, Simeon Toronto, who went on to be elected president at Boys Nation.

In addition to the political activities that all Boys Staters will engage in, there is a Boys State band and a Boys State choir. Those two groups will give a concert at 7 p.m. on June 20 in the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts at Marshall High School.

Boys will also be able to participate in organized sporting events, including volleyball, basketball and softball. A daily newspaper will also be published.

Boys State participants and staff members are housed in the residence halls at the university.

Any Boys State member who elects to attend SMSU in the fall of 2014 will receive a scholarship.

For more information about Minnesota Boys State, visit the website: www.mnboysstate.org.