Boys State Program

The American Legion Boys State program is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students. A participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government, Boys State was founded in 1935 to counter the Nazi (Fascist) inspired Young Pioneer Camps. The program was the idea of two Illinois Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, who organized the first Boys State at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

Developing leadership skills, confidence and action-based understanding of the government process gives young men and women a lasting foundation for success, both personally and professionally. The American Legion believes that educating youth about the basic ideals and principles of government will help ensure the survival of our democracy.

The Boys State is a unique and exciting government-in-action learning program in which American Legion members guide young men to become knowledgeable stewards of freedom, democracy and patriotic citizens.

Purpose Statement
To provide an outstanding, unique, and coveted educational opportunity for the young men of our nation that instills the basic ideals and principles of American government through citizenship training programs. The young men and women become knowledgeable of the democratic process and how our republic form of government works at the state and national levels.

Program Objectives
Develop leadership and pride in American citizens.
Educate citizens about our system of government.
Instill a greater understanding of American traditions.
Stimulate a desire to maintain our democratic government processes within our republic.

Selection Criteria
To be eligible, young men must be a high school student who has completed their junior year and have at least one semester left before graduation.
Be keenly interested in government and current events.
Have high moral character.
Show strong leadership abilities.
Demonstrate above-average scholastic achievement.

Where and When

The D.C. Legion's program for 2017 will be held at the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at 25 Louisiana Ave., N.W., just blocks from Union Station and Capitol Hill. The program will be held from July 10 through July 14. Sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4:30 p.m.

The cost of Boys State programs are underwritten by each American Legion Department. Boys State delegates’ registration fees are paid for by the sponsoring local American Legion unit with additional support and funding sometimes coming from various civic and nonprofit organizations. Participating young men may incur nominal expenses for transportation, site-specific fees, or contribution to an optional service project. The D.C. Legion's program for 2017 will be held at the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at 25 Louisiana Avenue, N.W., just blocks from Union Station and the Capitol Hill.


Deadline for application for this program is June 9, 2017.

A printable handout can be found here.

A PDF version of the 2017 application may be found here.

Boys Nation Nation
Every year, two outstanding boys from each program are selected to attend American Legion Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. As Boys Nation “senators,” they campaign for political office, craft and debate the passage of legislation, and meet with their real-life counterparts on Capitol Hill. Besides a chance to experience the workings of federal government personally, they gain further opportunities to sharpen their leadership skills and learn about their American heritage. They also may be afforded the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States. Details are available at

For more information, please contact:
The American Legion Department of the District of Columbia
Phone : (202) 362-9151
Fax : (202) 339-9027
2121 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 68
Washington, DC 20007