About the program

What is the purpose and goal of the American Legion Jersey Boys State?

American Legion Jersey Boys State (“ALJBS”) is a college-level,” learn-by-doing” practicum that  provides New Jersey high school juniors experience in democracy, government, and leadership.  Learning is gained through lectures, discussions, guest speakers,  and career seminars.  A college & career fair, career seminars, a sports program, and more are also provided.   Our goal is to give our statesmen an appreciation for our form of government in hopes of making them more involved citizens in their communities. 

When will our delegates be away for American Legion Jersey Boys State?

Delegates arrive at ALJBS on Father’s Day each year and will be away from home the entire week.

How much does The American Legion Jersey Boys State Cost?

Parents are required to pay a $50 non-refundable fee and the post will pay the rest of the tuition.  If you are self-sponsored, there is a $50 non-refundable application fee and a $300 tuition, if accepted.

Who should attend

How do I apply? Who can apply? Where do I apply? Where can I get more information?

There are two ways to attend ALJBS: you can be sponsored by an American Legion post or apply to be a self-sponsored delegate. Information about both processes is available at apply.aljbs.org.

Who is eligible for American Legion Jersey Boys State?

Each delegate must be in the 11th grade of high school (high school junior) with at least one semester left for the next academic year. 

I am home-schooled. Can I participate in the ALJBS program?

Yes! Home schooled students can either be sponsored by a local American Legion post or apply to the program as a self-sponsored delegate. Information about both processes is available at apply.aljbs.org.

Note: When you apply, please provide a separate letter verifying your home-schooled status and eligibility as a high school junior.

What makes a good ALJBS delegate?

Students who usually excel at ALJBS possess an inner-drive and a “no quit” attitude.  They are leaders of good character, good scholars and good citizens, who can interact well with a wide-range of personalities.  They are able to listen to and engage with others. ALJBS is not just a government and politics camp, it is a place where delegates often find out about themselves and how they can interact with young men from diverse backgrounds.

What are some of the benefits of attending ALJBS?

ALJBS provides its delegates with a broad understanding of the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship and a better understanding of and appreciation for self-government. During “A Week that Shapes the Future,” delegates participate in a variety of educational and recreational activities and hear inspirational talks from both state and national leaders. 

How are students selected for American Legion Jersey Boys State (“ALJBS”)?

Students are selected through a two-step process. First, the faculty and/or guidance departments recommend delegates to represent their school.  Next, those recommended are then interviewed and selected by the local Legion post.   The number of delegates attending is only limited by the amount of funds raised by the American Legion post or local service organizations (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc).  There is a different process for those who are not sponsored by a post (self-sponsored).  This is spelled out on the self-sponsored page of our website.

I am the leader of a service organization in NJ. Who can I contact for more information to sponsor a delegate to ALJBS?

All post-sponsored delegates must be sponsored by an American Legion Post in the student’s area.  If you wish to sponsor a young man, we suggest you contact your local post or  click here for a list of posts in NJ. You may also contact the ALJBS main office at the American Legion Department of NJ’s Headquarters in Trenton. Please visit the contact us page for more information.

What to bring and what will be provided

What should I bring with me to ALJBS?

Check out our list of personal items to bring here.   If you plan to participate in a sport that requires personal equipment (gloves, rackets, etc.), bring them to ALJBS.  We do not recommend bringing expensive laptops, iPads and other electronic equipment, since they are not required.  ALJBS is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

How much money should I bring?

Most delegates bring between $50–75. The Boys State Store will have items to purchase all week, including sweatshirts, gym shorts, shirts, jackets and socks. You can also purchase an additional Boys State shirt for $20. You will need to safeguard your own cash, so we don’t advise bringing a large sum of cash with you.

What is the dress code?

You’ll be wearing the ALJBS delegate shirt along with shorts or pants throughout the week, as you can see on our list of things to bring. We recommend purchasing another delegate shirt at the on-line store before arriving at Rider, since you’ll be wearing it all week. Your shirt(s) will be in your room when you check in.  Socks and shoes or sneakers are required; no open-toed shoes are allowed.

If you plan to participate in sports, you should bring athletic shorts and sneakers (a county sports shirt will also be given to you as well).

What are the lodging arrangements?

All members of ALJBS stay in Rider University dorms for the entire week. You’ll be sharing a room with one roommate. Bed linens (twin XL) and pillows are not provided, nor are washcloths and towels. Each dorm has at least one bathroom per floor.

Can I bring my own campaign materials?

No. Using outside campaign materials automatically disqualifies you from an election. The only campaign materials you can use are those you purchase at the program with Boys State Bucks.

I am training for Cross Country or another sport and would like to get in a workout during sports time. What are my options?

There are a variety of physical exercise options available at ALJBS:

  • ALJBS has a weeklong organized sports program with competitions in volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer, flag football, and tennis
  • A PT-style workout is often held thanks to the cooperation of the NJ State Police and US armed forces
  • The Rider University student recreation center is available to use treadmills, machine and free weights, and access to the indoor track for a fee ($5/day).
  • You are free to run on your own around the campus during the sports period

Should I bring a band instrument or are they provided by ALJBS?

Yes, you should bring your own instrument if you plan to join the band. Only percussion instruments are provided by ALJBS. If you don’t own your own instrument, your high school band director will be able to assist you. Only band instruments are used in the band, no orchestral strings, piano or guitars. All instruments are securely locked up when not being used.

What does the ALJBS Chorus sing and when does it meet?

The ALJBS Chorus is featured in two performances of one song in particular: the a cappella section of Peter Wilhousky’s arrangement of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The chorus rehearses for about an hour daily at the beginning of the recreation period after which, participation in sports can take place.

Getting to campus

Where is American Legion Jersey Boys State located and how do I get there?

ALJBS is held on the campus of Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ (about 5 miles north of Trenton). Click here for directions. The GPS address is 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648.

Can I drive my car to the program?

It is permitted but not recommended. Once you arrive at ALJBS, you will not be allowed to drive your car until after graduating on Friday. We recommend being dropped off by your family or taking a bus organized by your county’s Legion posts, if it is available.

I have a sports program or other conflict on Sunday, the day the session starts, will I be able to sign in late?

No. Only the ALJBS program Director can excuse a participant from missing any part of the program and those exceptions are very minimal (family emergency/school requirement). Every attempt should be made to attend the program from Sunday morning until the conclusion of graduation on Friday afternoon. In most cases, it is best to contact your local American Legion post chairman to have an Alternate fill your spot as a participant to the program.

The ALJBS Experience

What if I don’t care much about politics or government? What does ALJBS offer me?

Besides being a comprehensive introduction to the way our communities and state are governed, with statesmen with different levels of interest in learning about and participating in the week’s discussions, elections, and seminars, ALJBS offers you a variety of other things that are of interest to most young men.  As mentioned before, ALJBS is  a college-level seminar in which the participants get to explore their leadership skills while taking part in the government activities, the sports program or leadership in their city. Moreover, the career seminars that are offered daily are meant to highlight both the careers that some have found themselves in and possible career paths that will be of interest to you during the week. Whether it’s journalism, the military, state police, the law, healthcare, education, or information technology, for some these seminars may be an introduction to college and career paths that a delegate may want to explore.

Will ALJBS be run like boot camp?

Some statesmen come into the program thinking that ALJBS will be a pseudo-boot camp, with counselors that act like drill instructors and mandatory physical training. This is just a rumor!  We take pride in being a college-level seminar. City counselors work to have their city statesmen behave as adults in responsible ways. Though cities march in two columns as they move around campus, this is only an effort to keep to the schedule and help get the cities to the various educational venues efficiently and on-time.  Delegates are here to learn from and bond with your counselors, not fear them. Sports are a time to blow off some steam and enjoy the outdoors; no one is forced to run or do push-ups. Bottom line, don’t expect to arrive at Parris Island on Father’s Day!

Can I choose whether to go to a seminar or not?

All program participants must attend one career seminar each day, you are not allowed to skip seminars; however, you are allowed to choose which seminar you attend each day. There are normally 5-8 to choose from in a variety of fields each day. It is beneficial to attend those that are closely related to what you want to do in the future or find one for a field which you may not have been interested in but curious about. 

If I need to leave the program for any reason during the session, will I be able to return?

Temporary dismissal is only granted for major needs, like a sibling graduation or award ceremony.  We do not allow temporary dismissals for sports or other practices, games, or similar events. All dismissals must go through the ALJBS Office during session and be approved by the Director. Failure to obtain approval will result in failure to complete the program.

To receive the director’s permission, fill out our Temporary Dismissal Form.

My school will still be in session during ALJBS. What should I do with my final exams?

If your school will still be in session during ALJBS, you should coordinate with your teachers, guidance counselors and administration to take your exams early to accommodate ALJBS. Most schools are more than happy to do this, given the prestigious nature of the ALJBS program.

Other questions

What security measures are in place at Rider during the week my son will be at Rider?

Rider University has its own Campus Security that is fully staffed year-round. Recently, Rider formed a partnership with the Lawrenceville Police Department in which local police also patrol their campus throughout the week. Each year, at least one, and as many as three, NJ State Police Troopers are on staff in the “cities” throughout the campus, as well as a local Police Captain. At sundown each night, exterior doors are locked to each dorm and only counselors have security keys to swipe themselves and delegates in. As a general practice, each delegate’s dorm room is closed when delegates leave the building, but not locked. Only one master key is issued for approximately 30 rooms, and we ask that each delegate refrain from bringing valuables to Boys State. Any money the delegate brings should be kept hidden away or on their person throughout the week. Only $50-$75 should be required for the week to cover the cost of snacks and souvenirs. Any other valuables should be kept in a city counselor’s locked room; however, we discourage valuables when possible (no iPods, laptops, tablets, etc). Mobile/smart phones are allowed as long as delegates comply with the mobile phone policy and keep these on their person throughout the week.

What type of Medical Attention or First Aid staff is available for my son while at ALJBS?

ALJBS has trained medical professionals on campus for the week. Multiple EMTs will be on staff full time as well as the NJ State Troopers who are trained as first responders in the event of an emergency. In addition, Rider Security has trained first aid staff. Lawrenceville Township Police headquarters is nearby and they or the Lawrence Township Rescue Squad will be dispatched, if needed. Signed and fully completed medical forms are important in obtaining any information with regard to allergies, medicines and family history, so please have them with your delegate when he registers on Father’s Day. Boys State EMS will also be where delegates can refrigerate items such as insulin throughout the week.

Who makes up the staff at ALJBS?

The all-volunteer staff of ALJBS is composed of ALJBS alumni and members of the American Legion Department of New Jersey. We have assembled a staff with diverse backgrounds, energy, and skills that make the program possible and provide a life-shaping experience to nearly 1,000 statesmen from across the state each year.

Is my son covered by insurance in the event of an accident?

Yes. ALJBS carries medical insurance coverage on all students and staff members participating in our program. The insurance policy acts as a secondary policy to any coverage the student carries under his parent’s insurance policy. If the parent and/or student be uninsured during the time the student participates in our program, our insurance policy becomes primary coverage.

How can I communicate with my son while he attends ALJBS?

During the week, if you need to contact your son during the day, you may call the Boys State office at (609) 552-1946.  They will get a message to him.

Personal mobile/smart phones are allowed but their use is restricted as the program is packed tight with speakers, seminars and hands-on learning. The best times of day to contact your son are during recreation period (Mon-Thurs 3-5:30pm), during meals, and each night after 11pm. Feel free to check the published schedule of events to see where your son is at a particular time if you need to reach him.

We missed our County Orientation, what do we do?

If there are still county orientations in your area, we suggest attending one of those as a guest to hear some more information about the program. If not, there will be a virtual orientation held over Zoom in early June.

What is Family Day?

ALJBS Family Day is a picnic held on Friday before the ALJBS graduation, which gives parents, family and friends the opportunity to reconnect and meet fellow statesmen and counselors. For more information about ALJBS Family Day, click here. The Family Day event is presented by the New Jersey Boys State Foundation. More information about the Foundation can be found by clicking here.

If the American Legion sponsors ALJBS, what is the NJ Boys State Foundation?

The New Jersey Boys State Foundation (“NJBSF”) is a 501(c)(3) charitable, not-for-profit organization that helps to improve the program. The NJBSF supports parts of the ALJBS program not in the ALJBS budget, sponsors the Family Day program which takes place on Friday, and covers the cost of meals for all delegates, staff and Legionnaires. For more information go to the NJBSF website.

I am an alumni. How can I volunteer my time as a member of the staff?

You can apply to become a Junior Assistant counselor here on our website after the session ends in June. The Dean of Staff and city counselors will evaluate everyone and invite 1-4 members of each city to return as staff the next year. Applications are sent in January/February of the next year.

I would like to volunteer my time as a member of staff, but I attended the program a few (or more) years ago – what is the process?

Please use the Email form to contact our Dean of Staff and tell us about your time at ALJBS and experiences since. The Dean of Staff will review your note and reply if there’s an opportunity to return on staff.

I had a great time when I attended ALJBS, and would like to give back to your program that left an impression on me. Where do I go?

If you would like to share your story with us or make a monetary donation to give back to our program, please click here to learn about the NJ Boys State Foundation a 501(c)(3) organization founded by Staff and Alumni of the program to help fund the program forever, and add value to the experience of delegates each year along the way.