Thursday, June 15, 2006

Utah Boys State, 2006

And the Winner is, the Young Men of Boys State!

I have never been in an official debate. I've been in many arguments throughout my life in business and political situations, and I have been in many persuasive discussions. But, I have never been involved in a formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure, or in a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides; that is until today's visit to Utah's Boys State at Weber State College where it was my great privilege to debate Utah Republican Chairman, Joe Cannon.

Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students. It is a participatory program where each participant becomes a part of the operation of his local, county and state government.

Boys State has been a program of The American Legion since 1935 when it organized to counter the Fascist inspired Young Pioneer Camps. The program was the idea of two Illinois Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, who organized the first Boys State at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

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.

The young men's questions where respectful, well thought out, and relevant, and I am encouraged for our future. I wish I had been so bright at their age.

Later that evening, I ran into some of the young men who had attended the debate. My daughter Abby was appearing in her first dance recital that was also being held at Weber State. Once again I was impressed by these smart young men. The Clytie Adams School of Ballet has dancers from age four to 18. These young men understanding that opportunity is being in the right place, at the right time, where also at the recital One young man explained that the debate had been the best event at Boys State, "It's great to hear from people who actually know what they are talking about." Another said that he was surprised by many of my answers, "I had a different impression of Democrats, I think I have been mislead."

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.


john marlor said...

Good work Rob I am heartened that you were able to communicate to the young men of this state that the Democrats are not the enemy of truth, justice and the American way but are all for keeping the truths and rights stated by the founding fathers. The other party has used the divide and conquor ideas for too long time to boot the rascals out. Next time you see the Gov. or his rep. ask why he is chicken to go on the Lou Dobbs show and answer some hard ball questions. Maybe he is happy kissing Senor Fox's behind.

theorris said...

This Wookie was a Boys Stater. I might just have to write a memoir about it someday.

Ethan said...

Boys State '94. Loved it.

Former Centerville Citizen said...

Yeah, I was a Boys Stater too. I liked the scholarship money, staying up til 3 in the morning and the pranks, but didn't dig the endless meetings, white shirts, and the lack of females.

Ethan said...

1`Yes, the girl thing was a problem. When I was there, someone called a radio station and said there were hundreds of guys at Weber State just hanging out.

The security at Boys State spent the next few hours of the night shooing away carloads of girls. We just watched from the windows.

Anonymous said...

Ethan, a real man would have found a way

theorris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
theorris said...

My BS expereince wasn't so bad as we had a cheerleader camp there too. Good times.

The best "incident" was watching the son of a County's chief prosecutor break into an off limits part of the dorms.