And the Winner is, the Young Men of Boys State!
Weber State University at Ogden, Utah is the home of Utah Boys' State. The Utah Boys' State assembly convenes each year for five days during the month of June at Weber State University. Participants reside in dormitory rooms as representatives of high schools in the State of Utah.
The program involves the study of American Government and government process. Students participate in mock trial and elections. Additionally, students participate in music, sports, and seminars with public officials. Each state program elects student senators that represent the respective state at Boys' Nation in Washington, D.C.
If there was a star, or a winner from today's debate, that star would be the young men in the audience. Arriving early allowed Pete Ashdown, Christian Burridge, and I (Steve Olsen also attended but came later) the opportunity to speak with Boys State Governor Chris Ciacone, and Lt. Governor Levi Mele. It was easily recognizable that both of these young men could be future civic leaders, and I was very appreciative of the Utah Boys State pin that Lt. Governor Mele attached to my jacket. When Governor Ciacone introduced Christian Burridge to the 200 young men all he had to do was mention that Christian was a Boys State alumni from 92' and the entire room jumped to their feet and gave Christian a mighty cheer!
The debate topics included immigration, funding of the arts, social security, if and how our religious beliefs affect our politics, or vice versa, if we supported a contitutional amendment defining marriage, how GOP spending can be called "Conservative", the 'Natural Family", and Orrin's proposed Flag burning amendment.
I want to thank Utah Boys State Director Ken Hoyal, Joe Cannon, Pete, Christian, and Steve, and most of all, the young men who participated. It was a worth while event that taught me much. It's my hope that my son Sami will have the opportunity to attend Boys State when he is older, as I believe it is a worthwhile experience. It was for me.