American Legion Jersey Boys State (ALJBS) is a mythical fifty-first state organized and administered for citizenship training purposes under the auspices of The American Legion, Department of New Jersey. A session of Jersey Boys State has been held annually since the first session in 1946.
Boys State educates our youth in the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship. Boys State endeavors to provide a foundation for understanding self-government, a rational approach toward the solution of public questions, and a live faith in the ideals and processes of democracy. The program of training and instruction consists of extending the boy-citizen’s acquaintance with the background of American ideals, expanding his knowledge of the underlying principles of government organization, and by means of active participation in the government of Boys State helps him to set up constructive ideals toward all phases of representative government.
A complete program of educational and recreational activity is provided. A concert band is formed, a newspaper is published daily, and a portion of each afternoon is given over to an organized program of intramural athletics under supervision. Outstanding speakers and specialists contribute to rounding out the annual session.
The instructional program of Jersey Boys State has three phases: seminars, functional activities, and general assemblies. Seminars are held in general subjects such as government, law enforcement, legislative and election procedures. The heart of the instructional program is functional activity of citizenship practice, such as the operation of the courts, legislative assemblies, administration of law enforcement, public welfare, etc. These activities take a considerable portion of the time allotted for instructional purposes and constitute the chief means through which citizens “learn to do by doing”.
From the first day and extending throughout the program, general assemblies of all citizens are held. The purpose of these assemblies is to hear lectures on subjects which are pertinent to the training program and to give leaders of the two political parties in Boys State an opportunity to present their platforms. The timetable for all of these activities is found in the daily schedule.
All citizens are required to attend one of the several seminars. Each citizen is permitted to choose the seminar of his choice for the entire session.
The size and composition of the staff varies in accordance with the number of young men attending the annual session. We require a large part-time staff for administrative and instructional activities, as well as a full-time, on-campus staff of approximately 90 people to direct the activities of approximately 850 statesmen. The full-time staff of ALJBS for the week-long session are volunteers who are mostly former delegates and legionaires.
Funds for operating the program of Jersey Boys State are obtained by charging the sponsor of each boy a nominal fee for the week. This sum provides food, housing facilities, text materials, instruction, badges for all citizens, as well as other miscellaneous items. There is no expense to the boy after he arrives at Boys State except what he might want to spend for personal things. A complete detailed annual report of all income and expenditures is made annually by the Board of Trustees to The American Legion, Department of New Jersey.
In as much as the civic and fraternal organizations, as well as the Legion Posts which sponsor boys do so with the expectation that those who accept citizenship will enter into the activities which are provided for them, all citizens are expected to participate in some form of civic activity and to make a sincere effort not only to contribute to the program of Boys State while they are here, but to take ideas which they can put into practice back to their high schools and communities. Boys State would fail in its objectives if this were not the case to a reasonable extent for every boy who attends an annual session.
Boys State is in no sense a disciplinary or recreational camp. Only boys with outstanding qualifications in character and leadership, who will have a serious attitude toward an intensive citizenship training program should be selected. Consequently, it is assumed that all boys who are accepted and report for the annual session are representative of the ideals enumerated, know why they are here, and will give their wholehearted cooperation to the program of instruction and functional citizenship made available to them.