Boys gather to form government

By: Jessica Nichols

Alumnus Derek Byrne returned to the University of Central Missouri on Monday, June 11, attending Missouri Boys State (MBS) for the second time. This year he went as a camp counselor.

“I attended MBS last year, and fortunately enough, I was asked to come back and work on staff,” Byrne said.  “Specifically, I was an assistant city counselor for Lewis City. I made sure all of the guys in my city were where they were supposed to be and knew what their responsibilities were.”

An eight-day camp, MBS teaches young adult males about government and leadership. Starting with the basics, the boys learned how to build a government from its start. Seniors Robert Bishop, Caleb Eissler, Josh Johnson and Keith Sommers attended.

“We elected officials for city, county, and state offices. And these elected officials had to do their job that entire week,” Johnson said. “I was on the Nationalist state party convention, so basically I planned ads and strategy for the state-wide candidates.”

In the first few days the boys receive a large amount of information on different aspects of government.

“I’d say the first half of the week was terrible, just because of all the information that was hard to learn and all the hard work that really wasn’t rewarded until Wednesday,” Johnson said.

Although some may struggle through the beginning, many accomplish more than they once thought they could as the week progresses.

“But just seeing these guys prove to themselves, and me, how much they were capable of doing was absolutely awesome,” Byrne said. “They started out as 60 guys who didn’t know each other, among almost 900 others. But by the end of the week, they we’re members of a functioning city in a functioning state. Every one of them grew personally throughout the week, and getting to see that growth was incredible.”

The process opened attendees’ eyes to the importance of becoming an active community member.

 “I learned how important participation in my community is and that I really can make a difference,” Eissler said.

For Johnson, meeting the other MBS attendees made the week worthwhile.

“The best part was getting to know 60+ guys and creating a brotherhood in a week,” Johnson said.

Eissler agreed.

“I made some great new friendships over the course of that week,” Eissler said.

At the end of the session, boys return home to their communities with a better understanding of government and memories to last a lifetime.

“One of the guys in my city came up to me and told me how it had been one of the best weeks of his life and he had had so much fun, learned so much, and met some people who were now some of his best friends,” Byrne said. “He was just saying thank you to me for a good week, but it made me realize that I’m a very small part of something so much bigger than any one person. The Missouri Boys State staff works so hard to give citizens that experience, that chance to form relationships and ideas and grow as a young adult. As he told me about his experience, I realized just how big the impact of Boys State is.”

Any males who show an interest in going to the 2012 session of MBS and those interested in sponsoring an attendee should contact Byrne or visit the Boys State website, moboystate.org.