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A week that shapes a lifetime

2023 Boys State attendees participating in an activity on stage. (Photo Provided)

American Legion offers “Boys State” opportunity for nominated student

By Jacob Sturm
news@mustangpaper.com

Nominated individuals have a prime opportunity to further develop leadership skills, make
lifetime friendships and have unique experiences thanks to the efforts of the American Legion’s
Boys State program.

Students who are nominated and choose to attend will be put into a city, where they will be
given some form of responsibility including possibilities of passing legislation and adjusting a set
budget like the communities around the state do every year.

Formal classes will help teach the students about the process, with staff members including
attorneys and a judge who help share their knowledge as part of the week.

There is also plenty of recreation opportunities during the week-long camp that include
exposure to many activities they cannot get from high schools. Last year saw a police hovercraft
and a police helicopter on site for attendees to explore. Athletic opportunities are also
available, with the leadership laboratory of Boys State promoting delegates to grow through
teambuilding activities like eSports and a variety of athletic competitions like Baseball,
Pickleball, Combat Soccer and more.

“It truly is a week that shapes a lifetime,” Don Kuntze of American Legion Post 353 said. “These
guys get so much out of it.”

Boys State is available to every high schooler who has just completed their junior year.
Typically, the cost is $300 per person, but the funding for students selected will be paid by
members of the American Legion.

As for scholarships, up to $12,000 in tuition waivers are possible for those planning to attend
Rogers State University simply for completing the Boys State program. Rogers State University
is the host for current Boys State events.

Multiple $500 scholarships are also awarded to top performers at Boys State. Samsung
Corporation also awards up to $10,000 in scholarships only available to Boys State and Girls
State delegates, too.

“We’re looking for the sharpest of the kids, and a lot of people don’t have the self-confidence,
but they learn it,” Kuntze said. “If they ever take the step, they gain the self-confidence. It’s
amazing to watch these kids in government in action (classes) when they take charge and they
have their city council meetings and everything else.”

Some legislators from the Capitol also make the trip for Boys State and answer questions as
part of a Q&A panel in front of the entire assembled Boys State.

American Legion Post 353 budgeted for 10 from a fund for the program, receive votes for
individuals from the post members, the Mustang Masonic Lodge and Mustang Kiwanis Club and
may have additional funding from other community groups.

“We love our community as a Legion Post,” Kuntze said. “We love this community. We’re so
well supported, and we want to give back to the community every opportunity that we can.”

Boys State starts May 25 and goes through June 1.

The event is also sponsored and run by the American Legion, who has a motto of ‘For God and
Country’, and while the event is not military or religious training, there is a part of the program
that requires subjects like patriotism and faith as an integral part of the experience at Boys
State.

As long as that is not a problem, Kuntze encourages those selected to attend.

“All I can say is step out and take the chance because it will be rewarding to you,” Kuntze said.

 

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