A week of state

Wake up. Left, right. Breakfast. Left, right. Activities. Left, right. Lunch. Left, right. Government. Left, right. Break. Left, right. Dinner. Left, right. Assembly. Left, right. Bed.

While this might seem like some chant at a military boot camp, it’s actually just a typical day at Oklahoma Boys State. This weeklong government-themed camp gives Oklahoma’s top male rising seniors the chance to gain experience in such things as governmental procedures, leadership, politics and, of course, marching. Several students from Duncan attended Boys State and its female equivalent, Girls State, this summer.

Senior Albany Ashton says that one of her favorite parts of Girls State was getting to meet other intelligent senior girls from across Oklahoma. She also liked the visits from members of the state government, including Gov. Mary Fallin.

“I got to meet new girls, and all the friendships were really nice to make,” she said. “It was really nice to actually get to hear from government officials in our state.”

While Fallin didn’t visit Boys State, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb did. He said that Boys State is a wonderful opportunity for future leaders to learn and grow their experience.

“It’s encouraging to me to see the young men that are active, engaged and very excited about the future and can’t wait to get involved,” he said. “There’s more experience jammed into this week of Boys State than any other camp that I know of in the country.”

Much of that experience comes from the simulated governments at the camps. The attendees, or delegates, were divided up into House of Representatives and Senate groups, where they simulated the functions of those state-level chambers. Elections were also held to select executive officers for the camps, including governor and lieutenant governor.

Senior Jackson Moffatt says that his favorite part of his Boys State experience was his time in the camp House of Representatives.

“[My favorite part of Boys State was] writing the bills and getting to be in the House and talking to everyone and actually running the mock government,” he said.

The Boys and Girls State programs are run by the American Legion, a military and veteran organization.

Commander Timothy Smith, leader of the Oklahoma department of the Legion at the time, said that Boys State’s motto, “The week that shapes a lifetime,” couldn’t be more true.

“You’re bringing together 500 of the brightest and smartest kids across the state. They’re talking to people in different cities, all throughout the state,” he said. “And then all the different ideas and philosophies that they have — they have a chance to discuss that and argue and grow and see different opinions and different points of view. So by the end of the week, many of their lives have been changed, because they look at things in a different light.”

That light must be pretty bright, as it’s one that Boys and Girls State delegates will not soon forget.

For juniors interested in attending Boys and Girls State this coming summer, applications will be available in the counselors’ office toward the end of the year.