Palmetto Boys State

Palmetto Boys State Information

Contact our Boys State Representative, Dave Goodman, for an application for our 2024 Palmetto Boys State.

About Boys State

Palmetto Boys State pictureThe American Legion’s Boys State program (a week-long program) is a unique way for young men to learn about the American system of government and politics. 

By participating in a mock governmental system, the program is called a “Laboratory of Government” because during the week, each young man will have the opportunity to run for and be elected to mock offices ranging from the city level (e.g. city council, mayor) to the state level (e.g. lieutenant governor and governor).

It is an honor to be chosen as a delegate to Palmetto Boys State. More than 2000 rising seniors are nominated each year by their high school teachers and counselors to be delegates or “citizens” at Boys State. Locally, those nominated are interviewed and selected by our Post members.

Boys State City participantsThis past year, only about 1,100 of those nominated were able to attend. This is due in part because of the number of openings and because of the competitiveness of the program. The program is as much leadership training as it is an opportunity to learn and take part in government and politics. In fact, many of our state’s political, business, and community leaders attended Boys State.

While at Boys State, citizens will be divided into “cities” named for state rivers which make up “counties” named for famous South Carolinians. Citizens are also divided into two political parties from which they will campaign and/or pick city, county, and state officers. By doing so, citizens will learn about government and politics by participating in the process. They will prepare speeches, compose party platforms, debate current issues, and vote for elected offices.

Boys State CompetitionCities also compete for ribbons in athletics, spirit, college bowl trivia, and other events. Citizens may also take part in a media school which publishes a daily paper, nightly news videos, and conducts web updates regularly. Or, they may take part in a law school which conducts mock trials, a criminal justice academy, and a Boys State band.

Boys Staters hear from some of South Carolina’s top leaders. Speakers from years past included Senator Strom Thurmond, Senator Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, Governors Dick Riley, Carroll Campbell, David Beasley, and Jim Hodges, Speaker of the House David Wilkins, Congressmen Lindsey Graham, James Clyburn, and many others.

Boys at Palmetto BSHistory of Boys State – Boys State was first held in June 1935 in Illinois. Today, every state except Hawaii conducts Boys State. South Carolina began to host the program in 1940. Our program is called “Palmetto Boys State” and was originally housed at a school by the airport in Columbia, SC. Shortly afterwards, Palmetto Boys State (PBS) was moved to the University of South Carolina. In the 1960s, PBS again moved to The Citadel in Charleston where it stayed until 1990. Wofford College in Spartanburg was then host to PBS through 1998. The program returned to the Citadel in 1999 and finally moved back the University of South Carolina in 2004. Since 2011 Anderson University has hosted the Palmetto Boys State encampment.

The American Legion founded the Boys State program to teach young men about government and politics. More specifically, the program is intended to spark interest and pride in government on a local level as well as the national scope. The greatest aspect of the program is that the participants learn by doing. Active participation in Boys State is key.

What we at Post 111 look for

The American Legion has established certain qualifications for prospective Boys State citizens. Here are the recommended guidelines that are employed by Post 111 and most other American Legion Boys State programs:

Only boys who have successfully completed their junior year of high school and have at least one more semester of high school remaining are eligible to take part.

In line for mealsAny boy who has previously attended an American Legion Boys State is NOT eligible to attend a second session.

Only boys with outstanding qualities of leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty and service to their schools and community may be considered.

Merit and ability are the sole basis for choice of boys as citizens of boys Sate. American Legion Boys States comply with federal handicap laws. Palmetto Boys State requires a medical/parental consent certificate signed by a guardian.

Post 111 Delegates – This past year we interviewed boys from Conway High School, Carolina Forest High School, Conway Christian School, and the Scholars Academy. Twenty four (24) boys were interviewed and all were very well qualified. All of them will potentially be among our future leaders in years to come. Each candidate completed a questionnaire before being interviewed by three Legionnaires. the questionnaires included the following topics:

  • Academic Honors
  • Clubs and Activities
  • Special Awards
  • Special Interest and Athletic Participation
  • Community and Church Activities
  • Other Comments
  • Reason why they want to attend Boys State

Applicants must also give a paragraph, or more, expressing their feelings about the United States Flag, The National Anthem, and Being a Citizen of the United States of America.

After reviewing the candidates’ questionnaires and responses, interviewers asked each candidate a series of questions. In addition to scoring their answers, each candidate was also scored on their use of the English language, personal appearance, and their common courtesy and manners.

Each interviewer completed a score sheet for each candidate. the three score sheets were totaled and candidates were ranked by score with the top 7 candidates being selected.

Contact our Boys State Representative, Ray Friedl, for an application for our sponsorship to next years Palmetto Boys State.


View our 2018 Boys State Attendees

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