General Leonard E. Wood American Legion Post 162




American Legion Boys and Girls State are among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students. It is a participatory program where each participant becomes a part of the operation of his local, county and state government.

The programs are run at separate locations each year, usually at colleges located in centralNew Jersey.

Boys State has been a program of The American Legion since 1935 when it organized to counter the 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.

At American Legion Boys and Girls State, participants are exposed to the rights and privileges, the duties and the responsibilities of a franchised citizen. The training is objective and practical with city, county and state governments operated by the students elected to the various offices. Activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, chorus and recreational programs.

High school juniors are selected by local American Legion Posts to attend the program. In most cases, expenses associated with attending this program are paid by a sponsoring American Legion Post, a local business or another community-based organization.

American Legion Boys State is currently conducted in 49 Departments of The American Legion. Hawaii does not conduct a program. As separate corporations, Boys States vary in content and method of procedure, but each and every Boys State adheres to the basic concept of the program - that of teaching government from the township to the state level.

The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a similar program for young ladies called Girls State. For online details visit  


New Jersey Boys & Girls State



NJ Boys State Web Site

NJ Girls State Web Site

Interview Form

Comments by 2018 Attendees


 The General Leonard E. Wood American Legion Post 162 of Hillsdale New Jersey is looking for qualified juniors in High School who would like to attend the Legion's Boys or Girls State program each year.

 To qualify you must be:

    1. A Junior in High School.

    2. A resident of Hillsdale, Woocliff Lake or Old Tappan or a New Jersey resident who is a relative of a member Post 162 or their Sons of the American Legion who lives in New Jersey

 If you are interested, no later than February 15th, please  contact your school  guidance counselor and

 Joseph Sgroi  VIce Commander

 The General Leonard E. Wood American Legion Post 162

 Post Office Box 162

 98 Legion Place

 Hillsdale, NJ 07642


  If you have any questions, you can contact the Post at 201.664.2884 or email us at

 The American Legion believes there is no better way to assure the survival of our republic than to train our young people in the ideal and objectives of American government. By teaching youth to understand and appreciate the basic principles involved in the successful management of a democratic society, we can keep America strong and ensure freedom for future generations. These are the distinguished and long-standing objectives of American Legion Boys and Girls States.

 They are accomplished through a unique summertime program, one that emphasizes not classroom lectures or textbook learning, but participation and personal experience in a model state, complete with its governing bodies and elected public officials.

 Boys and Girls State was founded, and its courses of instruction designed, to supplement the information taught in high school civics classes. Boys and Girls  State teaches that our form of government is good but that its preservation depends on intelligent, informed, and loyal citizens in combination with an honest and impartial administration of government activities.

 Young men and women chosen to be Boys or Girls  State citizens can look forward to a wonderful and challenging experience. All who attend can acquire a better understanding and deeper regard for our nation's legacy of freedom and democracy.

 American Legion Boys and Girls State

 As a program of The American Legion, Boys and Girls State developed from the concept that youth should be offered a better perspective of the practical operation of government; that the individual is an integral part and commensurately responsible for the character and success of his government. As such, it is an activity of high educational value, born out of a need for youth training in practical citizenship.

 Boys and Girls State is easily classified as a leadership action program where qualified high school juniors take part in a practical government course designed to develop in the young citizens a working knowledge of the structure of government and to impress upon them the fact that government is just what they make it.



 A program of this scope encompasses many important objectives. We, The American Legion, feel that these are the most important and the ones for which we strive.  As you can see, the final two are taken directly from the Constitution of the United States.

     * It is our earnest hope that each young man and women attending Boys  and Girls State will return to his/her community a better citizen and that we will have aroused in him/her a desire to demonstrate this fact by his/her willingness to make civic contributions that will help to make his/her community a better place in which to live.

     * We desire to create more than just a passive interest in the actual study of government; we strive to create an interest that will be born of the desire for knowledge.

     * We desire to impress upon the young men and women the glorious traditions which have made this country what it is today.

     * We attempt to create a strong support for our government  in many ways but primarily by bringing them into the full realization of how wonderful it is to be an American.

  Program Objectives

 ·        To develop civic leadership and pride in American citizenship.

 ·        To arouse a keen interest in the detailed study of our government.

 ·       To develop in the young citizens of Boys and Girls State a full understanding of our American traditions     

         and  belief in the United States of America.

 ·        To arouse in young citizens a determination to maintain our form of government.

 ·       To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state, and nation.

 ·        To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom, and democracy.


 General Organization

 Boys and  State is conducted in  Departments of The American Legion. Hawaii does not conduct a program. As separate corporations, Boys and Girl States vary in content and method of procedure, but each and every Boys and Girls State adheres to the basic concept of the program--that of teaching government from the township to the state level.

 The New Jersey Boys and Girls State program is fashioned after the government structure of the state of New Jersey. Citizens of New Jersey Boys and Girls State are assigned to cities and towns and operate local government under either a selectman/town meeting or a mayor/council format. At the state level, a state's legislature and commissions deal with the problems facing the state of New Jersey. Boys and Girls Staters are asked to tackle many of the same issues and problems that their local town government officials and state agencies deal with every day.

 New Jersey Boys and Girls State operates under a two-party system with instruction provided in the organization and operation of political parties at both the local and state levels.

 New Jersey Boys and Girls state runs for aprox. seven days. See websites for dates and details

 Program Site

 See web sites for current locations. Web site addresses are at the bottom of this page. Generally Boys State is held at Ryder University and Girls State is held at Georgian Court University.

 The Staff

 The supervision of activities at Boys and Girls State and the responsibility for the full program is entrusted to its director. He/She is assisted by an Administrative and an Instructional staff that usually includes volunteer educators, attorneys, and other professional people, many of whom are drawn from the membership of The American Legion.

 The Instructional staff consists of boys/girls state counselors, guest speakers and experts who provide a connection between the government of the state of New Jersey and the Boys and Girls State action program. Among the instructors are lawyers, police officers, local and state government officials. Many also serve as counselors helping to supervise the daily activities of the town and cities.

 City Counselors are assigned to the groups of about 30 to 40 students who comprise a town or city within boys/girls state. These counselors are responsible for the daily supervision of the city activities including political organization, election and daily operation of the city. Counselors are members of the American Legion, cadets or midshipmen from the U.S. Service Academies and former Boys/Girls Staters who donate their time to the program.



 Political Organization

 Upon arrival at Boys/Girls State, the citizens are assigned to one of two political parties, the "Nationalists" or the "Federalists." These labels are in no way reflections of the major political parties in American Government, but are established to allow instruction and participation in the two-party system of government. One of the chief duties of the Boys/Girls State delegates is to develop a platform on which the parties will stand for election.

 An effective political system is created at Boys and Girls State to operate at both the local and state level. The political organization is broken down to its smallest components at the town committee level and graduated to the state level, concluding with a nominating convention.

 The government organization provides for many key features.

     * city and state elections

     * party caucuses and conventions

    * speeches, platform committees and organization of component units such as commissions and legislative   committees

     * local functional government units such as town boards, agencies or courts.


 Instructional Program

 The Instructional Program is carried out in three phases: limited classroom instruction, functional activities and general assemblies. Its important to note that more than 50% of the program hours at New Jersey Boys /Girls State are spent in hands-on, functional learning activities.

 Classroom Instruction is held on subjects such as law, civil service, election procedure, and parliamentary procedure. Other special "schools" are held to inform candidates of the duties of the office they seek, and, following election and appointment of officers, to instruct in the operation of the respective offices held by the citizens. Occasionally general assemblies are used to instruct on certain phases of government with individual instruction given for particular Boys/Girls State officials.

 All citizens of Boys and Girls State receive instruction in and are expected to use Parliamentary Procedure and every citizen is expected to participate in one or more special training sessions. Citizens may receive training in law enforcement, judicial operations, legislative procedure, and various phases of municipal government. Classroom instruction includes detailed explanation and instruction on the legislative, judicial and executive procedures of New Jersey state government.

 Functional activities start with local town committee planning sessions. Citizens choose their own method of nominating candidates for local offices. The program concludes with the nomination, election and inauguration of the Governor of Boys and Girls State. Along the way citizens participate in functional activities such as elections, caucuses, conventions, operation of courts, legislatures and municipal government, law enforcement and town planning activities. These activities constitute the heart of the Boys State and Girls program and its "learn by doing" approach.


 Selection of Citizens

 In the actual selection of boys and Girls as citizens of Boys and Girls State, merit and ability alone are the basis for selection. No boys/girls are permitted to attend because of either wealth or poverty. Boys and Girls State is not a program for underprivileged boys or girls, nor is it a summer camp for recreation. Fees, or "tuition," are paid by the American Legion Posts or other community-minded organizations, with little or no expense to a young man/women or family

 American Legion Posts in the State of New Jersey are invited to send as many delegates as they can afford to sponsor. Many local Legion Posts solicit sponsorship funds from other service organizations to help send more boys and girls to the program. Boys/girls interested in attending Boys  or Girls State should contact their local American Legion post about sponsorship.

 The selection process varies within the individual posts in New Jersey, but in general the posts solicit recommendations from high schools within their area. Schools generally recommend several more boys and girls than the sponsor has funding for and the final selection is left to the sponsoring post. Selection procedures within the various schools varies widely, but is generally done through the guidance or activities office. Schools which do not currently send boys or girls to the program are urged to contact the American Legion to find out about sponsorships in their area.

 To qualify to attend New Jersey Boys or Girls State, a student must be a  high school junior, maintaining a B or better average and a resident of the state of New Jersey. Boys and Girls State is a recognized activity and time off from scheduled school activities is generally permitted to boys and girls selected to attend the program. Many citizens frequently are required to take final examinations early in order to attend boys or girls state