Louisiana Boys State uses the “immersive educational experience” model to meet its twin goals – educating young men about local and state government and developing leadership skills through which they can influence their community, state, and nation. Participants are immediately thrust into action upon arriving at Boys State. They are randomly assigned to a City (made up of 25-30 Citizens) and a Parish (made up of two Cities) through which most of their program experience is organized. From the evening of Day 1, Citizens jump into the electoral process, campaigning for and winning various offices. All Citizens are elected or appointed to positions at the City and Parish level through which they must negotiate the challenges of governmental leadership.
This hands-on approach allows Citizens to experience for themselves the various issues faced by government officials as they work together. Whether a Parish Council is trying to develop the most effective method of economic redevelopment or members of the House of Representatives are debating new laws for Boys State, all effort and thought about the process originates with Citizens. The give-and-take of these activities allows Citizens to realize and unlock their leadership potential – often in ways they previously did not know existed.
Citizens also have the opportunity to interact with leaders from across the state including local and state government officials, business leaders, members of the media, and active service officers or officer cadets in the U.S. military. Speakers from a variety of backgrounds offer their own perspective on what leadership and public service mean and look like in the real world.
While the elected positions and responsibilities are the cornerstone of Boys State, the development of brotherhood among citizens and counselors is generally considered the most fun and rewarding part of the program. Citizens are deliberately assigned to Cities and Parishes at Boys State so that they meet others from across Louisiana. This creates the opportunity to not only discover leadership potential through interaction with strangers but also to develop life-long friendships with some of the most outstanding young men from across the state.