Spring Lake Park High School student Eric Neal Carlson was selected to participate as a senator in The American Legion’s Boys Nation Program, which took place July 21-28 in the Washington, D.C. area.
Boys Nation is an annual program that includes civic training, leadership development and a focus on Americanism. Two representatives from each of the 49 Boys States represent their state at Boys Nation in Washington, where the young leaders receive an education on the structure and function of federal government.
At the event, each delegate acts as a senator from his Boys State. The young lawmakers caucus at the beginning of the session, then organize into committees and conduct hearings on bills submitted by program delegates.
Senators learn the proper method of handling bills, according to U.S. Senate rules. Participation in the political process is emphasized throughout the week, including organization of party conventions and nominating and electing a president and vice president.
Carlson, 17, is a Boys State alumnus who has been elected district judge of his county. He is considering a career in pediatric nursing.
About Boys Nation
During their eight days at Boys Nation, 98 senators (two from each state with the exception of Hawaii) will learn from a hands-on approach how the U.S. Senate and the federal government function. Boys are divided into two political parties, the Federalists and the Nationalists, each of which conducts a party convention, sets a platform and nominates members for elected offices, including Boys Nation president, vice president and party leaders. Each senator will also write, introduce and debate a bill of his choosing before an appropriate Senate committee, and if successful at that level the legislation will be voted on by the whole Senate. Bills passing the Senate are later signed or vetoed by the Boys Nation president.
The young men will also have an opportunity to tour the National Mall, including the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Wall and Korean War Memorial. They will also present a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, see the Iwo Jima Memorial and visit Capitol Hill for meetings with their state’s U.S. senators. They may have the opportunity to visit the Pentagon and the White House as well. In addition, delegates will also visit The American Legion’s Washington office to meet with lobbyists and subject matter experts, and attend a dinner at a nearby Legion post hosted by National Commander Charles Schmidt of Oregon.
Famous Boys Nation alumni include former President Bill Clinton; actor Donal Logue; Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin; as well as senators Mike Lee and Tom Cotton. Notable alumni include Tom Brokaw, Michael Jordan, Rush Limbaugh, Jon Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Neil Armstrong, Roger Ebert and Justice Samuel Alito.