Bonus: How to Maximize Your Experience and Succeed at Badger Boys State
Learn people’s names: All of us are impressed when someone remembers our name. If necessary keep a small notebook with names in it, along with a description or something to help you remember the person’s name.
Shake hands: I don’t care if it’s cool to high five, smash chests or give some secret handshake.
Learn to do it well. Concentrate on the person you are meeting, smile and express interest in the person as if you have all the time in the world. Be sure to introduce yourself. Tell people your name and if it is appropriate something about yourself.
Leadership skills are learned: You will learn more by leading those who are leaders. All the boys at Boys State are leaders at their high school. Recognize that you will be challenged for leadership roles by those who have abilities equal to yours.
Run for office: Many times at Boys State no one runs in opposition for some of the offices. If no one else wants to run then why don’t you run for office? But if you run, know the basics of the requirements for that office and don’t give a half-hearted speech. Tell everyone that you want the job and you need their vote. Don’t get discouraged. There are over 300 elected offices at Boys State. That means that there are 300 winners and 300 losers. If you run and are defeated then run again. Learn from your defeat.
Getting involved means you must participate: Be civil. Use humor. Humor to be effective should be self-deprecating. Trashing someone else, even if funny, will make at least one enemy.
Know your counselors: These men are experts. They are all volunteers, they believe in the value of this program. They are very good at what they do. They can use your help, so don’t be afraid to volunteer.
Pay attention: Take classes that will help you learn. Ask questions. There are no stupid questions but there are a whole bunch of stupid answers. Don’t be afraid of knowledge. Once you learn something you are armed with something that no one can take from you.
Push beyond your comfort zone: We all want to be comfortable. At Boys State you have the opportunity to try new ideas, to take chances, to find out what works for you. You can speak in front of groups and hone your speaking skills.
You only have so many coins: Really good politicians know that they have a limited amount of currency to spend. Every time you take a position you spend some of your coins. Pick your verbal fights carefully. Once you have used up all your coins, no one bothers to listen to you. You may feel strongly about some issue. Someone else may be totally uninformed on the subject. Listen to what others have to say. Listening does not mean that you agree with them.
Go home enlightened: You will take back to your school and community a new appreciation for your nation and state. Your high school will welcome the skills that you have acquired. Your parents will be amazed at your new found confidence.
Frederic J. Berns, Director of Badger Boys State