MO Boys State

Willow Springs High School Student’s Missouri Boys State Experience

WILLOW SPRINGS, Mo. - Willow Springs High School student, Seth Wake, attended Missouri Boys State in Warrensburg this past summer. 

Missouri Boys State is an eight-day hands-on experience through the American Legion Auxiliary that teaches high school students leadership skills and the fundamentals of government. According to the Missouri Boys State website, they teach the need for competition, the value of public service and the strength of the individual voice and vote.

In order to be eligible to apply for Missouri Boys and Girls State, each candidate must have successfully completed their junior year by the time of State at a Missouri high school and have at least one semester of high school remaining after the close of the session. 

Here is a Q and A with Wake about his experience at Missouri Boys State:

Q: Describe your experience at MO Boys State:

A: Whenever I first arrived at the program I will admit I wasn’t very enthusiastic. Just my initial impressions of the program wasn’t based on much information. I had never really heard of Missouri Boys State before, and did not know at all what I was getting myself into. But, whenever I went to orientation night, and also received my handbook, it seemed like a hand-full. 

When I arrived at the program we got a little lost just from some miscommunication but we eventually found our way to my dorm and what would become my “city”. I didn’t really know it at the time but this program would change my perspective on politics and humanity in general. Orientation day on site was a completely different feeling than orientation weeks before. Most of the boys there joked around about how hardly any of them read the manuals they were given or only skimmed over a couple pages or so (as did I). It wasn’t until a counselor approached me and suggested that I should apply for a governor's cabinet position that I started to become a bit more accepting of my week-long circumstance and filled out the application for the job.

Apparently, out of about 4 entries for the position of Director of Public Safety I had the best one. The very next day I was already on my way to the governor's office to begin my work and my study’s about the various inner workings of Missouri’s Executive Branch. Part of my work included working out the next year's appropriated budget for every government position at Missouri Boys State. Keep in mind that the entire mock government and society was run completely by the participants (boys) of the program. I had to go up in front of a congressional approval committee so they could make sure I was actually qualified for my job. I had to argue my stance and my positions on the budget when it was brought to question. I had to help bring people to justice whenever someone was distributing illegal lottery tickets. It was difficult, but I liked it.

Everyone of the boys in my city was a good person, someone I wouldn’t mind being friends with. After it was all done on the last night many of the boys had touching speeches about their lives and the impact this experience has had on them. The amount of comradery at the program was immense, people cheered each other on during the simplest of victories. It was amazing that so many different people of all different walks of life can come together and within a week form a tight community and friendship with the people around them. My experience: 10/10, would go back and volunteer someday.

Q: What are the top 3 things you learned at MO Boys State:


  1. The government and the way that it functions in the United States is far more complex that I could have fathomed. To get the simplest laws past it takes mounds of effort, social connections, and a little bit of luck. 

  2. People will naturally connect with each other if not given the choice. In one week I got to know my roommate better than some of my friends of years.

  3. If it can happen, it will happen. (the one and only time in MBS history the entirety of the state’s budget was stolen).

Q: Why should students consider applying to MO Boys State:

A: It’s a perspective changing experience that at the same time is challenging and informative. It changed my perspective of the government and would make me less reluctant to participate in local government in the future. 

Q: What else would you like to share about your experience at MO Boys State:

A: My counselors were awesome. They were around the same age as me and had some very interesting life stories they told me at the end. Very personable, but also professional and authoritative when needed.

The next Missouri Boys State will be June 22-29, 2024 at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri. There is also a Missouri Girls State with the same mission that will also be held June 22-29, 2024 at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.

Juniors interested in learning more should visit the Counselor’s Corner and then contact Mrs. Patton if interested in applying by completing the four steps in the Counselor’s Corner.