What is Arkansas Boys State?

Arkansas Boys State is an immersive program in civics education designed for high school juniors. Since 1940, the week-long camp has transformed the lives of young men throughout our state and beyond. These young men have gone on to become incredible leaders, including President Bill Clinton, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Senator Tom Cotton — just to name a few. 

I was never quite the same after I went to Boys State and Boys Nation — after I realized what government was, what its role in our life was, what citizens were supposed to do to make it work. I never took it for granted again. 

Pres. Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States

Did You Know?

Did you know that there are 49 different Boys State throughout the United States? The first Boys State program began in 1935 in Springfield, Illinois.

What can you expect at Arkansas Boys State?

Wondering what you can expect at Arkansas Boys State? Check out this video from a Tuesday during the week of Boys State — full of elections, excitement, sports, friendships, new ideas, and lifelong memories. 

Upon arrival at a Boys State, each participant is assigned a mock political party, city, and county. Throughout the week, delegates administrate this mock government as if it were the real government. Every phase of the program includes practical instruction on the duties and responsibilities both of a citizen and of public officials. Citizens of a “Boys State” are instructed in the duties of the various public offices. After they learn the function of each office, its powers and limitations, they function in that role throughout the remaining week.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect:

  • The “citizens” of each “Boys State” city and county nominate members of their individual parties to be candidates for the various city and county offices.
  • Elections are held with the citizens conducting their own registration of voters and the actual balloting.
  • Election boards serve at city, county and state elections, according to the laws of each state.
  • Legislative, administrative and judicial programs are developed to hold the interest of all citizens.
  • State legislative sessions, court trials, law and police schools, evening assemblies, bands and choral groups, etc., all involving boy citizens, are popular activities in a typical Boys State.

By week’s end, Boys State has created their own state government including their own governor and staff of state officials, named appointive officers, established the state Supreme Court and other courts, and organized the legislature and all other divisions of government.

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