What is Badger Boys State?

Badger Boys State is an experience like none other. It may be quickly described as a program which teaches the workings of government “by doing,” but it is much more than that. It is a week-long journey through many things that make us who we are: leaders, friends, students, athletes and most of all citizens of our respective cities, towns, and our state. Some people who have participated in the program have described it as “one of the most challenging, rewarding, and fun experiences of my life.”

How does Badger Boys State work?

Approximately 870 young men from every part of Wisconsin will come to Badger Boys State this June. Upon arrival at the Ripon College campus, they will be grouped into cities and counties which will form a “51st state.” For eight days, the citizens of this “new state” will carry out all the main functions of city, county, and state government using basic laws and fundamental procedures of the State of Wisconsin as their guide. The program is designed to teach its “citizens” that the American form of government is stronger and more vital in today’s world than ever before.

The boys themselves will elect their own municipal, county and state officials. As alderman or county supervisors, they will frame, present and pass their own ordinances and laws, while their own police and sheriffs will enforce them. As attorneys, they will prosecute or defend. As judges, hear cases in their own courts. Through this program, these leaders of the future should develop a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation.

Boys are not to bring with them any printed or other previously prepared campaign or election literature. Facilities and supplies for preparing such promotional material will be supplied at Boys State.

Who is eligible to attend Badger Boys State?

Boys who have just completed their junior year in high school and have their senior year remaining before graduation are eligible to attend Badger Boys State. The student must be enrolled in a Wisconsin high school. Home schooled students are eligible but must be considered among the pool of students in what would be their school district. Each boy must be sponsored by or through an organization that pays all sponsorship fees. Badger Boys State does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, handicap, creed, color, political affiliation, ancestry, or membership in the National Guard, state defense force, or any other reserve component of the military forces of the United States or Wisconsin.

Badger Boys State is a program for boys who are well adjusted, good students and display qualities of leadership in their school. Scholarship is important but potential leaders are not always the top of their respective class. Boys to be selected should be from the upper third of the class.

How are people selected and sponsored for Badger Boys State?

Local American Legion posts usually serve as the clearing center for sponsoring organizations. Other organizations will include fraternal, civic or patriotic organizations and individuals through such organizations. Please visit our sponsorship page for more information.

The selection of candidates to attend BBS is conducted in different ways depending on the sponsoring organization and the local school district’s participation. Each sponsoring organization will usually work closely with their local school. Alternates should also be selected at the same time delegates are selected to replace boys who may find themselves unable to attend.

What kind of activities are there at Badger Boys State?

Every citizen is encouraged to participate in a wide variety of recreational activities designed to provide a wholesome relief from the fast pace of the day’s routine. Those listed below are well-established activities. Others may be organized as facilities become available and need and interest warrant.

  • Sports: A competition schedule is arranged for softball, volleyball, soccer, football, basketball, tennis and cross country. Other activities available are swimming, weight lifting and ultimate frisbee.
  • Music: The Boys State band and chorus organize and perform throughout the week. Citizens wishing to participate in band should bring their instruments and music stands.
  • Newspaper: The Badger Bugle Citizen is the official, daily newspaper of BBS. Boys interested in editorial and work as reporters should talk to their city counselors.
  • Color Guard: Responsible for handling the flags during BBS assemblies, this group is made up of citizens with or without prior color guard experience. They are the center of attention at the beginning and end of each evening gathering.
  • Discussion Sessions: Due to the diversity of the staff at BBS, a wide variety of discussion sessions are offered to provide citizens insight and the opportunity to ask questions about different professions. Some examples are law enforcement, medical, engineering, education, ministry, political processes, and ecology. These discussion sessions are held daily by outstanding professionals.

Who are the staff members during the week of Badger Boys State?

The boys will be under the direct charge of the Director and his staff. The staff is comprised of approximately 110 counselors and office staff with a wide variety of backgrounds. Citizens will be under the daily supervision of their city and county counselors, who are responsible for their day-to-day guidance through the program. The citizen-to-staff ratio is typically 8 to 1. Other staff include legal, civic and professional advisors who aid the program in their area of specialization. Special qualified speakers will lecture on subjects of particular interest.

Where is Badger Boys State located?

Ripon College, located in the city of Ripon, WI, has been the site of Badger Boys State since 1941. The Badger Boys State program and the Wisconsin American Legion have had a longstanding, mutually beneficial association with Ripon College. The 2016 session will mark the 75th session of Badger Boys State at Ripon College. We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation and courtesies extended by Ripon College throughout the years.

Last updated by: Alex Masica