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What is Connecticut Boys State

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About The Program

American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students. It is a participatory program where each student becomes a part of the operation of his local city, town, and state government.

At American Legion Boys State, participants are exposed to the rights and privileges, the duties and the responsibilities, of a franchised citizen. The training is objective and practical, with city, town, and state governments operated by the students elected to the various offices.

History of Boys State

The youth movement in the United States known as Boys State originated by the Illinois Department of The American Legion in 1934. The plan was adopted by the national organization in 1935, and has been put into operation in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Hawaii does not operate their own program under the American Legion umbrella but has a similar program that was in place before the islands gained statehood.


W. Frazier Brinley, Past Historian for the Department of Connecticut, describes the first Boys State while conducting research for our 100 Year Anniversary book, as follows:

"Formerly called Nutmeg Boys’ State. Locations: 1942 - UCONN; 1943 & 44 - Camp Hazen, Y Camp, Chester; 1945 & 46 - UCONN; 1947 - Fort Trumbull, New London; 1948 - Choate School, Wallingford; 1949-72 - UCONN; 1973-1980 - US Coast Guard Academy; 1981 - Nichols College, Dudley, Mass.; and 1982-2019 - Eastern Conn. State Univ., Willimantic. The program was cancelled due to COVID 19 in 2020 and 2021 but resumed at the Trumbull Marriott Hotel in 2022. The program was moved to the UNiversity of New Haven in 2023.


First year cost $18 per boy. There were 103 boys. Our high was 399 in 1965 and 1974. There were 103 boys at the 2023 proram.


The first Chairman was Carlos B. Ellis, Jr of Middletown. The Director was UCONN’s History Professor Andrew Schenker and his assistant, also from UCONN, was assistant Professor Major Newton W. Alexander. The overall concept of Boys’ State has been to teach government from the town/city to the state level. Put another way, first you are assigned a party, sworn in as a citizen, elect town/city officials including judges, policemen & party chairmen, hold campaigns and elect state officials.


Parties are Nationalists and Federalists. During the first year, there were 6 towns and 3 counties, and the program was held June 14-20, 1942 for boys who were sophomores or juniors.

The First Elected Officials were, Governor: Thomas Brothers of Bridgeport, Lt. Governor: Douglas C. Blanchard of Norwich, Secretary of the State: Carl G. Johnson of Portland, Treasurer: William S. Healy of Orange, Comptroller: Charles J. Wrabel of Fairfield and Attorney General: James E. Calkins of Norwich."

From the beginning, Connecticut Boys State has grown in program and in numbers to meet the needs of the youth of Connecticut. The present program includes several hundred of the youth leaders of our state each year. Participants are selected on a competitive basis by the local high schools and Legion Posts throughout the State of Connecticut. The staff serving Boys State is made up of men and women of the Legion, Legislators, and former Boys Staters who voluntarily give of their time and energies to this program of citizenship development. Most of these men are outstanding in the field of education, law and government who leave their busy jobs and come  to serve their state and nation by helping the young leaders learn better how to perform their responsibilities of a free citizen. The staff will include many individuals serving in the capacities of counselors, junior counselors, and administrative staff. Former Boys Staters are called upon to serve as junior counselors or advisors to the Boys Staters. Many have served faithfully for many years and are promoted to the senior status by the leadership team. Thanks to Eastern Connecticut State University, Boys State in Connecticut enjoys the finest facilities in which to carry out the program. The program has received the “red-carpet” treatment each year as it returns for another session. UNH goes all-out to provide the necessary services to make the program the tremendous success it enjoys from year to year.