I never went to Boy’s State. In fact in the Spring of 2008 I heard it mentioned for the first time. I was/am the Army ROTC enrollment officer at Clarkson University. My job is to find likely candidates to enter Army ROTC, a program that trains college students to become Army Officers. I’m usually looking for ways to interact with the right young people for the program. As I quickly discovered the Boy’s State program is one of the best places to find future Military Officers.
My boss, the Professor of Military Science at Clarkson walked into my office that Spring and handed me a piece of paper with a phone number on it, and told me to check into going to Boy’s State as a counselor. Having never heard of the program, and thinking I had better things to do with my Summer, I tossed the paper in a drawer and forgot about it. About a month later the boss asked me if I had checked into Boy’s State yet, and I figured I better make the call.
After talking to someone at NY American Legion HQ, and getting an invite to be a junior counselor, I headed off to SUNY Morrisville for the last week in June. Little did I know I was heading to something that was life changing. That first year I was essentially the gofer for a county councilor and his three city councilors during the week, working as a junior counselor and learning the ropes. I got to help with all the administrative paperwork and assist as needed. I also got to see how my counterpart at Niagara University was able to help the effort with councilors and Cadets acting as councilors and junior councilors. I got to learn how NY Boy’s State was structured and how the political process at Boy’s State works. I also got to see what role the Marines played.
The following year I returned as a city councilor, in charge of 40 citizens during the week. Working with the other city and county councilors I learned a little more each year how to efficiently help the citizens accomplish all they needed to do during a week and make sure they were engaged and productive.
Eventually I was given the opportunity to be a county counselor. Being responsible for 120 boys, three city councilors, a junior councilor and a marine was very fulfilling. Keeping the group motivated, focused, and successful and seeing the councilors and the marine execute the plan was always the highlight of the week. Watching the citizens quickly learn the political process and create a government from scratch each year was very rewarding. After the parade and final assembly each year the sense of accomplishment and the desire to do it again next year was always there.
I had the honor of being the county councilor for three years before I was asked to assume the role of supervising the website and social media effort. Although i miss working at the county and city level, my new role has allowed me to make sure we tell the New York American Legion Boy’s State story each year. We keep the parents up to date during the week and we inspire others to consider the program. I also get to help the Headquarters staff with their behind the scenes tasks that are so crucial to the success of the program. Working with the dedicated legion staff is something I always look forward to.
It’s truly hard not being at SUNY Morrisville this summer. I hope we are all back in the Cherry Valley next summer.