Boys State immerses teens in democratic process


JASPER — The American Legion Department of Indiana’s Hoosier Boys State program isn’t your typical summer camp. No canoes. No campfires.

Instead, the program, hosted by American Legions nationwide, immerses young men in a week of theory, organizational experience and practical application of the democratic process and form of government. This year’s Hoosier Boys State will take place from June 11-17 at Trine University in Angola.

“Basically, in a nutshell, it teaches young men how to form a government at the city, county and the state level,” said Daniel B. Lawson, children and youth program chairman at American Legion Post 147 in Jasper. “It’s a hands-on experience. It’s not necessarily classroom or instructional, it’s strictly hands-on.”

Lawson said the boys will learn how to form election committees, create delegates and engage in other important aspects of forming governments. The event’s website adds that the participants will actively work together to win elections, propose laws, negotiate bills and enforce the legislation and procedures established from the local up to the state level.

Other activities during the weeklong event include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.

The program is open and offered at no-cost to current high school juniors who will return to school next fall for their senior year. Lawson said Post 147 raised enough funds from local businesses and organizations to sponsor 14, possibly 15, local high school juniors to attend the program this year. So far, 10 total delegates have been selected from Jasper High School and Northeast Dubois High School.

Lawson said he’d like to fill the remaining spots with young men from any high school in Dubois County.

“The people that donate money to me, they don’t want to see that money in a bank account,” Lawson said. “They want to see kids going to Boys State.”

In a press release penned April 11, Lawson noted that the campus of the university is well-equipped to care for the more than 600 boys who attend Hoosier Boys State every year, with state-of-the-art housing facilities, a local hospital, athletic facilities and more.

The release goes on to say that the 75 qualified and motivated staff members present at the event are individuals drawn from the Indiana educational community, professional career areas, Trine University and the American Legion.

Those interested in filling the remaining spots are encouraged to contact Lawson at 812-661-2440 or by email at To learn more about Hoosier Boys State, visit

American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program for young women called Girls State. The Indiana Girls State convention will be held June 18-24 on the Trine University campus.

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