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Good Morning Boys State: You Have One Week

Addresses from Legislators Highlights Monday at Boys State

Ask questions, have fun, and be proactive

The largest text on this page reads "A Week That Shapes the Future." It's our program motto, and it reminds everyone here what the goal of the program is and how that goal relates to them. Our staff understands that the week of Boys State is not just a week away from work when they see their friends on staff; it's their chance to give sixty young men in their charge the experience and impact they felt as a delegate. The delegates know that this week is designed to help them develop for the future.

"Shaping the future" is the part of the motto that's usually emphasized, for good reason. There are hundreds of stories that connect past experiences at Boys State with future achievements. New Jersey governor Chris Christie was a Boys Nation senator from the 1979 American Legion Jersey Boys State session. Senator Robert Menendez was also a ALJBS delegate. Assemblyman Herb Conaway won the 1980 ALJBS governor race and told delegates yesterday that "the things I do in a campaign today are things I did at Boys State. The things I learned here, especially the confidence I developed to push issues that mattered to me forward, are important to me today." And then there's the famous story of Bill Clinton meeting President Kennedy as a Boys Nation Senator in 1963. Shaping the future is what we do here, even if it's not as dramatic as these men's experiences would suggest.

But there's another part of that phrase too: "a week." One week may seem long to you at home missing your sons, brothers, and grandchildren, but it's an incredibly short time for us. The delegates are only on campus for 129 hours. The Boys State program will be half over by the end of the day. By 3:00 PM this afternoon, there will only be five elected positions remaining from the entire election system. Things move quickly here, and our time to shape the future is limited.

Boys State has a fixed beginning and a fixed end. Time is a boundary. When Friday comes as it always does, the week will close and the opportunities will vanish. There's no second chance at Boys State. Once you graduate, you don't get a chance to run for office again. The chapter closes. Life moves on.

The staff members have seen delegates who made the most of their opportunities and delegates who didn't understand them. At each opportunity, we urge delegates to get involved in some way. There may only be five elected positions remaining, but there are plenty of appointed positions. There's non-political roles, like the band, chorus, the sports program, newspaper, the flag ceremony, and the court system. No delegate can do all of these things. The city officials meet during sports and free time, so yesterday's softball star may be unavailable today. Someone else will have to step up.

But that first step, that jump from zero to one, is the difficult part. Isaac Newton may wrote that "objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by another force." Staff members cannot be the force; we can't order a delegate to get involved. What we can do is let them know that they don't have a lot of time left and encourage them to take that step.

New Jersey State Senator Tom Kean Jr. echoed that message last night. "If you don't do it, someone else will. Other people have great ideas too. The world is about showing up, getting involved, and doing everything you can to make a difference."

Inaction is a choice and its own penalty. Our world passes by those who fail to act. Ask questions, have fun, and be proactive. Carpe diem, seize the day boys, and make your weeks extraordinary. Shape your own future.


Monday is arguably the busiest day at ALJBS. From cities to seminars, we had a full day with many excellent speakers.

Speakers: Today's speakers included Mahwah Mayor William Laforet, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, and New Jersey State Senator Tom Kean Jr. Conaway and Kean graciously answered delegate's questions for over half an hour. They have been great friends to the program and we are thankful for their visits this year.

Politics: Each city elected a mayor and council members yesterday morning. These delegates will appoint delegates to different jobs in the city, write policies to address their city's issues, help create their city's manual, and lead their city as they walk around the campus. These positions, especially the mayor, carry a lot of responsibility. Congratulations to all our ALJBS city officials!

At night, the parties from each county met and selected candidates for county and legislative offices. Those elections will be held today.

Seminars: Our first day of seminars went extremely well. Speakers from emergency medicine, real estate, business entrepreneurship, information technology, and other fields spoke to delegates about careers in their professions. Many of them discussed how they entered the field, job prospects, and how to develop skills to succeed before taking questions from the floor. This is an excellent opportunity for delegates to gather information about potential careers, and we're glad to have such a deep and talented group of speakers this year.


Main Event: ALJBS is pleased to host a college fair for the delegates. Representatives from nearly eighty colleges throughout the country will be attending. The college fair will run for two hours. Many delegates have taken advantage of this program, and we look forward to it once again.

originally posted June 19, 2012 1100