Iowa’s Premiere Civic Education Program

Countdown to Boys State: June 21-26, 2020








Post Information

American Legion Posts may reserve delegate spots for the 2020 session of Boys State. Complete the online reservation and send in your check ($250 per delegate if done before January 1 – $300 if done Janauary 1 or later) to Department Headquarters:

The American Legion of Iowa
Attn: Boys State
720 Lyon Street
Des Moines, IA  50309

American Legion posts eligible to request refunds for delegate reservations may do so up to April 1. Requests for refunds done after April 1 will not be honored. Please contact Department Headquarters if you have further questions. To request a refund, fill out this form completely during January 1 – April 1.

Post Reservations

Post Refunds

Chairman's Guide

Additional Post Reservations

Delegate Information

Register Online After January 15, 2020

Contact your local American Legion Post for your official selection letter that will provide detailed information on how to register online. The letter contains the proper information for you to submit under the correct sponsoring post. The website for online registration is very specific and should be typed in to the address bar not a search engine. A confirmation email will be sent approximately 7-10 days after you register online.

Once registered, delegates should download a copy of the Boys State Handbook. Delegates should also stay in contact with their local, sponsoring American Legion Post, for information on their District orientation date/location. Important information is distributed at these orientations, to include how to apply for the coveted Samsung Scholarship. Make plans to attend a District Orientation.

Your post is your first point of contact as they are your sponsors.

Delegate Handbook

Packing List

What Next?

Counselor Information

The American Legion of Iowa Boys State Board of Directors is very proud of the staff and counselors. The list starts with you.  Please make your commitment early, and register. It is our intention to make staff/counselor assignments as early as possible! There are now TWO links to sign-up to be a counselor, and you should click on one below.

Please keep in mind that the background check must be done just prior to Boys State, and the fee to run the background check is paid by The American Legion of Iowa Boys State.  Please make sure you have made a firm commitment for the proper dates, as staff/counselor shirts will be ordered based on the information you provide.

Returning Counselors

New Counselors

Background Check

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Before Boys State

What exactly is Boys State?

The short answer, Boys State is a training program in citizenship and democracy.

The American Legion of Iowa Boys State is a week-long, hands-on experience in the operation of the democratic form of government, the organization of political parties, and the relationship of one to the other in shaping Iowa government. Through the Boys State objective of learning by doing, delegates will learn about city, county, and state government more in one week than they would in a semester of high school civics.

Boys State is an exercise in leading as well as following others. Elections are held to provide an opportunity to show the ability to perform under pressure and to show character in the face of victories and/or defeats. Boys State will test skill in solving problems and working effectively within a team.

Boys State is an opportunity to gain pride and respect for form of government practiced in The United States and the price paid by people to preserve democracy. The week contains ceremonies and assemblies as well as marching and pageantry. Guest speakers, such as Past National Commander of The American Legion David Rehbein, and former Director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Bernie Saggau, along with Iowa Government Leaders attend each year to offer their vision and advice.

Boys State is a chance to meet new people. Boys State offers an opportunity to meet people who represent Iowa’s diversity in heritage and culture. One of the finest objectives afforded to young men by Boys State is the friendships they will form with other Boys State citizens, many of whom will become lifelong friends.

What are the dates for Boys State?

The next Boys State session can be found at the top of this page.

Where will Boys State take place?

Since the beginning of The American Legion of Iowa Boys State, the program has taken place on and within the grounds and facilities of Camp Dodge located in Johnston, Iowa. Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center serves as the state headquarters for the Iowa National Guard. Anyone wishing to enter the facility is required to present a valid state identification card (state id, driver’s license, military id, etc.) at the front gate.

Camp Dodge is located at:
7105 NW 70th Ave.
Johnston, Iowa 50131

What should I bring with me to Boys State?

Once you have registered as a delegate for the Boys State program, an official handbook will be provided to you and your primary contact outlining details for the program including what to bring. The items listed below are what we advise delegates to pack and have on hand while attending Boys State for ONE FULL WEEK.

  • Bedding – twin size (sheets, blankets, pillows, pillow covers, or sleeping bag, etc.) These WILL NOT be provided for you.
  • Bug spray
  • Comb/Brush and styling products
  • Face towels – Bath towels
  • Facial wash
  • Jeans & shorts
  • Medical Insurance Card and Medical Release Form (Signature Form)
  • Musical instrument and stand (If applicable)
  • Pajamas
  • Personal Water Bottle!
  • Raincoat
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash/soap
  • Shaving/toilet articles/small mirror
  • Shirts – A Boys State shirt will be provided for you which you will wear every day. You can purchase additional shirts if you would like.
  • Shoes for all sports (NO flip-flops)
  • Shower shoes
  • Signature Form (Medical Release Form requiring your parent’s signature)
  • Small bag
  • Spending money for the PX ($40 should be plenty, however, if you plan to purchase a high school graduation cord, bring an additional $20)
  • Sports uniforms/clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • Sweater/sweatshirt/jacket
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (mouth wash if necessary)
  • Underwear and socks

If you happen to forget something, the PX (Post Exchange) will be open for purchase on Camp Dodge. Candy, ice cream, soft drinks, postage stamps, soap, toothpaste and other articles may be purchased daily. As this is a military PX, please observe their rules as to purchases allowed.

The following WILL NOT be permitted or tolerated:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Narcotics
  • Weapons (including pocket knives)
  • Campaign Material – You will be able to purchase these with American Legion of Iowa Boys State money.
Can I arrive late or leave early?

We highly recommend avoiding this scenario. However, we understand there may be circumstances which cannot prevent a late arrival or early departure.

If you will be arriving later on the first day of Boys State (Sunday – check in from 9 AM – 12 PM), please notify your sponsoring American Legion Post and email Please include your name and sponsoring post number. We will indicate this in our database with your registration so you will not be marked as a “no show”. If you will be arriving a day later, it is our recommendation that you do not participate. The first day is crucial to the program. There is no place in the program to play catch up after missing Day 1.

If you need to depart early, please notify your sponsoring American Legion Post and email with the reason. The Director will need to evaluate the circumstance and give his approval. An early departure that is not approved will be counted as an incomplete of the program.

Can I drive myself to Boys State?

Delegates bringing cars WILL NOT BE PERMITTED TO USE THEM DURING BOYS STATE except in emergencies, and then only with the permission of the Director. After you have unpacked, you will be directed to park in a lot patrolled by Camp Dodge security. Keys must be turned in to your city counselor and kept at Boys State Headquarters (C-3). You may pick them up on the last day from your city counselor or from headquarters. This restriction is necessary for the safety of Boys State delegates and conduct of Boys State program.

Can I bring personal electronics (cell phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)?

Your barracks will not have a telephone. Cell phone, and use of tablets/Ipads/laptops/electronic readers/etc., is permitted only when activities are not in session (during free time). Wi-fi usage is extremely limited, as you are on a military installation and security measures are followed. Please note that The American Legion of Iowa Boys State and Camp Dodge will not be held responsibile for lost and stolen items. Securing your item will be your responsibility. The inappropriate use of electronic devises while attending Boys State is prohibited. Anyone caught may be asked to give up their electronic device or they may be dismissed from the program. If such a case, your parents will be responsible for picking you up at their expense.

We advise against bringing expensive electronic in addition to your cell phone.

What if I missed or cannot attend an orientation?

We strongly advise against missing a live orientation. The orientation provided by Boys State in your district provides you and your parents an introduction to the program and other delegates from your area of the state. This gives you and especially your parents a chance to interact and ask questions. It is strongly recommended one or both of your parents attend with you.

We understand during the school year this may not be feasible because of a conflicting schedule. If you cannot attend the orientation closest to you, you may attend another orientation in your district if your schedule permits. If that does not work, you may attend another district’s orienation if that works better for you.

If that is still not possible for some reason, you will need to contact The American Legion Post sponsoring you first. They are your first point of contact – they are the Legionnaires who selected you. They can review the online materials and orientation with you at a convenient time.


How do I get to Boys State?

Your sponsoring American Legion Post and/or District should help you with transportation arrangements. Check with your local American Legion first since they are your sponsors for instructions to transportation arrangements. The American Legion of Iowa nor Boys State DOES NOT provide transportation for delegates, posts, or districts.

If your parents will be escorting you to Camp Dodge, please follow the signage provided to our point of check-in.

Is Boys State free?

Yes, Boys State is free to you. However, you should be aware that your local American Legion Post and/or other organizations/donors in your commuity is paying your fee to attend. Please be sure to recognize their generosity. They see something in you that they believe is worth investing their limited resources and time.

If you are unable to attend due to a conflict, please notify your sponsoring post first. They may be able to find someone else to fill your reservation. Any cancellation made after April 1 prior to Boys State forfeits your reservation and your local post cannot request a refund for their money. 

During Boys State

Are there scholarships available from Boys State?

Boys State awards and scholarships are made available to those students who have exemplified “statesmanship” in their qualities of character, scholarship, citizenship, patriotism and leadership. Some of them include:

  • Donald E. Johnson Outstanding Citizen Scholarship — $5,000. The American Legion of Iowa Foundation gives this award annually to the Outstanding Citizen of Boys State.
  • American Legion of Iowa Boys State Governor Scholarship – $1,000. Awarded to the elected Boys State Governor. NOTE:  If he is also the Outstanding Citizen, he only receives the Donald E. Johnson Scholarship, not both.
  • Andy Haverman Scholarship – $500. In memory of Andy Haverman, 1996 Boys State Citizen. Based on staff recommendations and performance during the Boys State session.
  • Keith Baker Scholarship – $500. Based on staff recommendations and performance during Boys State. Provided by the American Legion of Iowa Foundation.
  • Legal Merit Award – $500. Presented to the delegate which scores the highest on The Boys State “Bar Exam,” administered to those delegates who become part of the law school at Boys State.
  • Boys Nation Senators. All travel and expenses are funded by the National organization. Two Boys Nation Senators will be invited to attend The American Legion of Iowa’s Mid-Winter Conference, to report on their experiences at Boys Nation.
  • Boys Nation Senators (Alternates) – $750. Given to the two alternates chosen as Boys Nation Senators, if they are not called upon to attend Boys Nation.
  • Sons of The American Legion Highway Patrol Award – $500. Presented to the delegate who completes the examination process of the Boys State Highway Patrol and is promoted to the rank of “Colonel” as a result.
  • Sons of The American Legion Second in Command Award – $500. Presented to the delegate who is elected Lt. Governor of Boys State.
  • Sons of The American Legion Outstanding Band Member – $500. Presented to the delegate who participates in The Boys State Band, and excels, as chosen by the Boys State Band Director.
  • Sons of The American Legion Outstanding Chorus Member – $500. Presented to the delegate who participates in The Boys State Chorus, and excels, as chosen by the Boys State Chorus Director.
  • Samsung Scholarship*

*See section regarding this scholarship.

What is the Samsung Scholarship?

*Worldwide electronics leader Samsung endowed a scholarship fund of $5 million to be administered by The American Legion in 1996. Meant to show appreciation for U.S. veterans who came to Korea’s aid during its struggle against communist forces in the Korean War, the Samsung American Legion Scholarship Program established a series of scholarships derived from interest and other income from the principal amount. To date, the Samsung American Legion Scholarship has awarded more than $5.2 million to nearly 1,800 applicants. Ten (10) national recipients, known as “Samsung American Legion Scholars,” are anticipated.

Selection Criteria for The Samsung Scholarship: Eligibility – The student must be a descendant of an U.S. veteran who served honorably during one or more of the wartime periods. Descendant is defined as a “direct lineage, i.e. child, grandchild, great-grandchild, etc., and legally adopted children. The student must attend an accredited U.S. college or university. The scholarship is for undergraduate study only and may be used for tuition, books, fees (normal and customary) and room and board (university housing or its equivalent).

  • Samsung Scholarship applications are available ONLY online at To be considered, you must be a delegate to the American Legion of Iowa Boys State.
  • Scholarship applications are restricted to high school juniors who attend the current session of either The American Legion Boys State or Auxiliary Girls State program and are a direct descendant – i.e. child, grandchild, great grandchild, etc. – or a legally adopted child of a wartime, as outlined in The American Legion membership criteria.
  • Samsung scholarships are for undergraduate study only and may be used for tuition, books, fees, and room and board. Winners are selected according to academic record, involvement in school and community activities, community service and financial need. Applicants who are direct descendants of Korean War veterans will receive special consideration.
  • Scholarships are due prior to the participant’s arrival at American Legion Boys State and must be submitted using the online application.
Where will I be staying?

You will be housed in an assigned barracks on the grounds of Camp Dodge. Two barracks make up a ‘city’.  The barracks you reside in and your city name will be given to you at check-in. Bring a complete bedroll, including blankets, sheets, pillow and pillowslip. You may bring a sleeping bag if desired. NO BEDDING IS AVAILABLE AT CAMP DODGE. TAG EVERYTHING WITH YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS. Please have adequate clothing and supplies for ONE FULL WEEK.

What is Boys Nation?

The National Headquarters of The American Legion conducts a program called AMERICAN LEGION BOYS NATION, held at Marymount in Arlington, Virginia, and picks up in the instruction process on government where respective American Legion Boys State programs leave off.

  • At American Legion Boys Nation, young men learn about the federal levels and process of our government, through “hands-on” participation, like Boys State. American Legion Boys Nation follows the national political process and culminates its program with election of the President of Boys Nation.
  • The American Legion Boys Nation program is conducted at Marymount College in Arlington, Virginia.
  • Two (2) Boys State citizens will be selected to represent Iowa from The American Legion of Iowa Boys State in the week-long American Legion Boys Nation program. Two (2) alternate citizens will be selected to attend American Legion Boys Nation in the event a principal delegate from Boys State is unable to attend.
  • At Boys State, candidates to be considered for Boys Nation are nominated by their city counselors and interviewed by an American Legion Boys Nation selection panel, comprised of Boys State staff members.

The American Legion National Headquarters pays for the transportation costs of all delegates to American Legion Boys Nation.

Can I take photos?

Yes you can take photos as long as you abide by acceptable practices and common sense. While attending Boys State, you will be photographed professionally with your fellow citizens. Your city photo will be available to you by the final assembly, if not sooner. Candid photos of activities throughout the week will be available through an archive website provided after Boys State via email. The American Legion of Iowa and Boys State, Inc. are not responsible for photos posted by fellow Boys State citizens or visitors, to any of the social medias by fellow citizens or visitors.

What is the food like?

Our chefs prepare three outstanding meals every day to keep you well fed. From cinnamon rolls and pastries for breakfast to burgers and pork chops with delicious sides, you will no go hungry. Did we mention the custom desserts? Meals are provided to you at no cost. Your sponsoring American Legion Post, as part of the enrollment fee, pays the meal cost. You will eat in a dining area assigned to your Boys State city. You will eat with your Boys State city and your city counselor will direct you to the correct dining hall.

Shirt and shoes are required in the dining areas. No swimming trunks are permitted. The official Boys State badge is admission to the dining area, and will be issued to you at your city when you arrive. Meals are not available for your friends or relatives. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served by schedule which will be provided to you during Day 1.

Recent Photos & Archives

2019 Photos

Boys State Through the Years

Photos from 2018 Boys Nation in Washington, D.C.

by Lucas Carter – The American Legion.