This years Missouri Boy’s State (MBS) seemed to be a complete success as approximately 978 students from across the state met for the 75th session of MBS. Awards were given, friendships were made and unknowing dreams came true, especially for Elsberry’s own Bo Young.
“It was awesome, I mean the whole program was just great,” said Young. “At first I was just like, egh, but after I got to be there for a little bit, it was just amazing.”
All young was told was it was going to be a week long experience with 1000 plus students that all come together at USM in Warrensburg. According to him the object was for all of them to form their own form of government.
“We were all split into cities, with approximately 60 students per city,” explained Young. “There were 16 cities, with two cities per county and all of the cities were named after individuals from Missouri who either contributed to the American Legion or sponsors Missouri Boy State.”
Young was in the Richardson City group, where he got learn about all the people there; their differences, their ideas and the inner workings of building and maintaining a student run government.
“After the first day my entire outlook on it changed,” said Young.
But simply being at Missouri Boy’s State was not Young’s proudest moment. During his weeklong learning experience, Young had the rare opportunity to interview Robert Upshur “Bob” Woodward, an American investigative journalist and non-fiction author.
“Bob Woodward was the keynote speaker and he talked a little bit about how he has used journalism as a tool throughout his career,” said Young. “Being able to talk with the man who almost single handedly exposed the entire Nixon scandal was just an awe moment for me.”
Young said he couldn’t express enough how nervous and happy he was to be given the opportunity to pick Woodward’s brain.
“I had to interview him for a newscast we were doing at Missouri Boy’s State,” said Young. “Every night there was a special newscast about ‘the news. Basically it was for those students who had an interest in media and journalism putting together a legitimate newscast in a studio.”
Young went on to say how his nerves were just through the roof, as there were three other people there to interview Woodward. Although he said he had to wait in line for quite some time, he did go on to say how fun the experience was.
“I asked him what his thoughts and speculations were on the movie ‘All the Presidents Men,’ which was made in 1974 and focused on him and his partner Carl Bernstein’s exposure on the Watergate scandal.”
According to Young, Woodward said the movie was almost to the tee accurate and the studios did an excellent job remaking the scenes and era. Young said Woodward even used a lot of quotes from the movie during his presentation.
“Another proud moment for me was knowing we all built a fully functioning government in about five days, which was a lot of hard work,” said Young. “We even elected a Governor, other government elected officials, judges, an electoral college and it was just a remarkable experience all the way around, a lot more than I thought it would be.”
The History of Missouri Boy’s State is quite a story as some of the most well known individuals in history have been part of their traditions; people such as Neil Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Dick Cheney and even Jon Bon Jovi.
Developed originally in Illinois in 1934 by Dr. Hays Kennedy and Harold Card, both educators and members of the Illinois American Legion, the Boys State program was designed to promote democracy, and counteract the Fascist principles taught to the youth in Germany. It didn’t take long for the Boys State program to become America’s foremost leadership program.
The 13th of its kind, Missouri Boys State took form just four years after the creation of the first ever Boys State in Illinois. Legend has it that during an early 1937 luncheon, four of the American Legion’s most dedicated and hardworking members agreed that Missouri needed a Boys State program and decided to work for its creation. Little did they know that some 65 years later their program would flourish and become one of the most coveted honors afforded a high school junior in Missouri.
“Although I really did enjoy myself and all I learned I don’t think I’ll be leaving Horticulture to pursue journalism,” Young giggled. “I still believe my future lies in the family business and I plan on learning all I can to peruse that. However, I do recommend the experience. The things you learn, the friends you make and the person it helps you become are life changing. I am so thankful for being able to attend and for those that afforded me the opportunity.”
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