Welcome to The American Legion Mountaineer Boys State

American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students. It is a participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government. American Legion Boys State was founded in 1935 to counter the socialism inspired Young Pioneer Camps. The program was the idea of two Illinois Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, who organized the first American Legion Boys State at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program for young women called American Legion Auxiliary Girls State.

At American Legion Boys State, participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments. Operated by students elected to various offices, American Legion Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.

American Legion posts select high school juniors to attend the program. In most cases, a sponsoring post, local business, community-based organization, or individual pays the Citizen’s sponsorship to the program.

American Legion Boys State programs currently exist in all American Legion Departments except Hawaii. As separate corporations, American Legion Boys State programs vary in content and method of procedure, but each adheres to the same basic concept: teaching government from the township to the state level.

The American Legion Mountaineer Boys State program is the second oldest in the nation and began in 1936. Sponsored by The American Legion Department of West Virginia; it is the only program to still be held where it was founded. The Boys State Board of Directors, in recognition of the exigencies of the war years, cancelled the program for the years 1943 and 1945.