Boys State is a program of The American Legion

Virginia Boys State provides the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in one of three areas of government. Participants cultivate leadership skills and develop pride in American citizenship.

Program Highlights

  • Citizens learn the political process through the election process for the offices of the mythical 51st state.
  • Each delegate is assigned to a political party which has no philosophy or platform until the delegates develop one.
  • Delegates use the basic laws and procedures of the State of Virginia as a guide for their week.
  • Speakers from all levels of government provide valuable lessons for the delegates.
  • A highly qualified staff provides guidance and leadership.
  • Two delegates will participate in Boys Nation held in Washington, D.C. in July.

Boys State is among the most respected educational programs of government instruction for high school students. Each participant becomes a part of the operation of his local, county and state government.

At Boys State, participants are exposed to the rights and privileges, the duties and the responsibilities of a franchised citizen. The training is objective and practical with city, county and state governments operated by the students elected to the various offices. Activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, chorus and recreational programs.

With hands-on experience, you will create an effective political organization, operating from the local through the state level. The government organization provides for such features as city and state elections. The citizens are organized into two political parties: the Nationalist Party and the Federalist Party.

Virginia Boys State is a leadership action program, designed to develop a working knowledge of the structure of government and to impress upon the citizen the fact that our government is just what we make it. Along the way they will have the opportunity to learn the political process. Each level of government will be run by those delegates who are elected to serve. Instruction will be presented on the law and court system, parliamentary procedure and Virginia political history.

Eligibility Qualifications

High school juniors are selected by local American Legion posts to attend the program. In most cases, expenses associated with attending this program are paid by a sponsoring American Legion post, a local business or another community-based organization.

  • Only young men, who have successfully completed their junior year of high school and have at least one semester of high school remaining, are eligible.
  • Home schooled boys are eligible provided they meet these qualifications: Home School Qualifications
  • Any boy who has previously attended a Boys State is not eligible to attend a second session.
  • Outstanding qualities of leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty and service to their schools and community are considered.
  • The applicant should exhibit an interest in the governmental process.
  • The applicant will have above average scholastic standing.
  • The prospective delegate and their parents must be residents of the state of Virginia.

Selection Process

  • The high school counselor where eligible boys are enrolled, recommends a list of candidates to members of the local American Legion post. Legionnaires at these posts interview the list of Boys State candidates.
  • The legionnaires, Virginia Boys State representatives, select delegates for the next session and verify that all eligibility requirements listed above are met. The final candidates chosen to attend Virginia Boys State are selected by American Legion posts … not by high schools.
  • Those not selected as primary delegates may become alternates if so designated by the interviewing American Legion post in cases where the primary delegate cannot attend. Alternates must meet all requirements to attend the program.

Home School Qualifications

Home schooling has positively impacted various youth organizations including the Virginia Boys State program. Potential home school candidates must have completed the 11th grade successfully in prescribed credit hour courses mandated by the Department of Education. Juniors chosen, have one more year of school remaining (or at least one more semester), in which to serve as leaders in their high schools and communities.

The American Legion’s National Americanism Commission as well as the American Legion Department of Virginia have established certain qualifications for prospective Boys State citizens. These two organizations work within the respective program guidelines to insure compliance.

It is the responsibility of the home schooler’s parents to contact the local American Legion post when nominees are selected from their respective high schools, and private schools. Further, it is the responsibility of the said parents to set an interview during the dates and times set forth by the local American Legion post’s Boys State committee.

Under no circumstances will a home schooler be accepted at Virginia Boys State without first having his eleventh grade courses and unity completed and approved by the division superintendent, the division superintendent’s assistant, or such designated person.

Defining public school and private school students needs no further comment; however, defining home schooling is a bit more complicated. A home schooler is a student who is taught away from the public or private school, usually at home by a parent or by groups of parents. Some of these parents may be qualified to teach, while others may not: teaching in either an academic-oriented curriculum or a religious-based curriculum.

Students may be taught in non-accredited situations for 180 plus days, ranging from (1) no specific days or hours, (2) to that of free subject choice, or (3) to one of a strict battery of specific classes taught by degree holding family members or neighbors.

Admittance Procedures for Home Schoolers to Attend Boys State,
Working Through and in Cooperation with Public School Personnel

The division superintendent, division superintendent’s assistant or designated person in the public school system, in a written statement, must indicate to the American Legion local Adjutant or Boys State Chairman that the student has successfully completed (or will successfully complete by June 1 at the latest), the same curriculum courses of a public school eleventh grader and to be a student in good standing as stated in the Virginia Code, § 22.1-254.1. Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children

  • 3 units of English
  • 2 units of Math
  • 2 units of Science
  • 2 units of Social Sciences
    • Virginia and U.S. History
    • Virginia and U.S. Government
  • 2 units of Health and Physical Education
  • 1 unit of Fine Art or 1 unit of Vocational Training or 2 electives
  • 5 other electives

The document verifying units completed can be sent to the local post by school officials. Alternatively, the parents of the home schooled applicant can present the document to the local post Commander or Adjutant. Names of these Legionnaires can be obtained by calling the Legion Department Headquarters in Richmond at (804) 353-6606.

Admittance Procedures for Religious-based Home Schoolers
Following a Non-academic Program

Under no circumstances will a home schooler be accepted at Boys State without first having his 11th grade courses and units evaluated and approved by the earlier stated public school officials or by the Virginia Boys State Educational Committee composed of educators and other professionals.

Home schooled youth following a religious-based curriculum must also be judged by the same academic course level of attainment as 11th graders attending the public schools. In this situation the Boys State Director, Michael Harris, must approve the home schooler’s scholastic curriculum records.

Parents of all home schoolers, public, private or religious-based, might want to include, along with curriculum data, any other test scores, sport activities, organizational membership, community involvement, patriotism and leadership examples for review.

American Legion Interviews of Home School Applicants

It is the responsibility of home school parents to find out when the local American Legion post will be interviewing Boys State nominees from the local high schools. All Boys State nominees are interviewed by some forum and home schoolers must compete in this process at the specified time.

All delegates selected to attend Boys State have their tuition paid for by a variety of sponsors; these include the American Legion, public and private schools, fraternal, business, civic groups and others. Home schoolers, if selected to attend, receive the same tuition as those from other schools.

The final selection of all Boys State delegates is determined by each individual American Legion post, judging the merits of every invited candidate.

Boys Nation

Two senators from each of the 49 Boys States represent their state at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. each year, and two delegates from Virginia Boys State will have this honor.

At the event, each delegate acts as a senator from his Boys State. The young lawmakers caucus at the beginning of the session, then organize into committees and conduct hearings on bills submitted by program delegates.

Senators learn the proper method of handling bills, according to U.S. Senate rules. Participation in the political process is emphasized throughout the week, including organization of party conventions and nominating and electing a president and vice president.

The week of government training also includes lectures, forums and visits to federal agencies, national shrines, institutions, memorials and historical sites. On Capitol Hill, Boys Nation senators meet with elected officials from their home states.

Since Boys Nation began in 1946, a number of its graduates have been elected to public office, including presidents, congressmen, state governors and state legislators. Many others have been inspired to work for the campaigns of individuals seeking public office.

The selection process involves counselor recommendations and a interview process; two senators and two alternates will be selected. The program is held in Washington, D.C. during the month of July. All expenses are paid by The American Legion Boys Nation program.

For more information about Boys Nation, contact The American Legion

History of Boys State

Within the Commonwealth of Virginia, for one week each year, a new state comes into being. The physical boundaries of this state are the limits of the Radford University campus, but there are no limits to its usefulness in promoting real life citizenship.

The youth movement known as Boys State was originally sponsored by the American Legion to counteract Pioneer Camps which were being conducted in the United States by the Nazi Freedom Foundation. Pioneer Camps taught that although the democratic form of government has served its purpose well, it was outdated and should be replaced by a fascist form of government. Legionnaires in Illinois decided to organize schools to teach youth the American way of life—AMERICANISM. They believed that youth knew the rights and privileges they enjoy under our form of government, and that they would never support any “-ism” except Americanism.

The Americanism Committee of the American Legion of Illinois obtained use of the State Fairgrounds for a week in June 1935. Volunteer American Legion counselors assembled at the Fairgrounds to clean and disinfect cattle stalls, set up borrowed bunks, arrange meeting rooms, purchase food, and set up a field kitchen borrowed from the National Guard.

They had contacted all the high school principals of their state and asked them to select their junior class leaders to attend the new government school to study the Constitution and the government of the state of Illinois. Two hundred and thirty five high school leaders arrived to participate in the government school. During that week, delegates were asked to suggest a suitable name for the program. The name BOYS STATE was offered by one of the delegates and unanimously adopted.

Other states followed Illinois in organizing Boys State programs. In 1939, the American Legion Department of Virginia, with the cooperation of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, organized the Old Dominion Boys State. The program was not held during the war years 1942-1945. Since 1956, the official name of the program has been THE AMERICAN LEGION BOYS STATE OF VIRGINIA, INC. It currently meets each June on the campus of Radford University.

The program of training has been developed on the assumption that youth can best learn by doing. The mechanics of government are patterned after those actually used in local and state governments in Virginia. Boys State is a true democracy in that all of its citizens may vote and are eligible to hold office. It aims at all times to make its programs of training in citizenship effective by creating a wide range of opportunities for participation in all forms of government.

The danger of Nazism no longer exists in today’s world. Yet, our way of life is still threatened by forms of government alien to our democratic ideas as well as apathy among our own citizens. The American Legion continues to sponsor Boys State in the belief that young citizens who are familiar with the operation of our government will be better prepared to uphold its ideals.

Proud Sponsors of Virginia Boys State

The American Legion extends gratitude for all of the private donations and sponsors that make Virginia Boys State possible.

Capstone Strategic, Inc. — 7901 Jones Branch Drive, #300, McLean Va 22102,

Gary Lowe

Larry Greene

Radford University — East Main Street, Radford Va 24141,

Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association — 1001 East Broad Street, #210, Richmond Va 23219,

Virginia Boys State, Inc. is grateful for the participation of members and staff of our state government and their commitment to educating the next generation of citizens of the Commonwealth.

Support Virginia Boys State

We thank you for considering a donation of financial support to The American Legion Boys State of Virginia, Inc.

We operate as a tax-exempt not-for-profit educational 501(c)(3) corporation. Since no goods or services are rendered in return for a donation to Virginia Boys State, contributions are fully tax deductible. Check with your tax consultant for more information.

The American Legion Boys State of Virginia provides young men with a broad understanding of the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship and a better understanding of how our government works. It is expected that each citizen will take the ideas and knowledge he has gained through Virginia Boys State and apply them in his own high school and community.

During the week of Boys State, citizens participate in a wide variety of educational and recreational activities and hear inspirational talks from both state and national leaders. Your donation funds nationally known speakers who appear at Virginia Boys State. In addition, your donation assists with registration fees for eligible delegates and funds college scholarships. A small portion of your donation also funds Boys State recruiting, administrative costs and various special projects, which enhance the Boys State experience.

How to become a sponsor

Sponsorship is an excellent way to show your support for Virginia Boys State. Your business or organization can become a sponsor of Virginia Boys State; you can also become a private sponsor. Our three levels of sponsorship are:

  • Commonwealth Sponsors (donations $1,000 and above)
  • Cardinal Sponsors (donations $500 to $999)
  • Dogwood Sponsors (donations $100 to $499)

The benefits of becoming a sponsor include knowing that you are investing in the future of some of Virginia’s finest young men. We recognize all of our sponsors on the back cover of the commemorative annual that each participant receives at the end of the session.

To make a donation electronically, please use the PayPal button below. PayPal is a safe and easy way to make a donation to Virginia Boys State. The service allows anyone to donate in any way they prefer without sharing financial information.

To inquire about sponsorship, please contact the Virginia Boys State Treasurer:

Larry D. Greene, CPA,
Post Office Box 639
Montross, VA 22520
Phone: 804-493-8955