Chapin, SC - Last month when lazy, summer days were being replaced with freneticism borne out of the first days of school, congested roads, and parents acting like Uber drivers while ferrying children to and from school activities, a quiet gathering occurred at Chapin American Legion Post 193.
People comprising our community; teachers, veterans, local political figures,and others came together to shake hands with tomorrow. Eleven young men from the Chapin area personified the future on that night. These young men were sponsored and financially supported by the Chapin American Legion so they could attend and learn from Palmetto Boy’s State. Additionally, the Chapin American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Group sponsored young women of the area to attend Girls State.
Girls and Boys State are both programs the Legion has supported for years. For one week in the summer, young adults woke up in dorms at state universities in forty-nine states. Days begin at 7:00 a.m. and end after 10:30 p.m. During these hours,candidates listen and converse with speakers and officials at all levels to learn our system of government, political history, the processes, shortfalls, and examples of working together to build a better nation. According to the Palmetto Boys State website it is, “…the top program in the country due to its unique learning experience.” Moreover, Palmetto Girls State stresses that delegates (participants) should expect a, “high-energy, competitive educational program designed to test their leadership, citizenship, and scholastic abilities.” They put those lessons to work as “citizens” of Palmetto State and are “divided into groups called ‘cities’ where they create local governments, devise political platforms and ultimately elect a Senate, House of Representatives, and constitutional officers.” Most importantly, these young people learn to identify problems and work together to apply solutions.
To really appreciate different opinions and backgrounds, participants room with South Carolinians from other regions and build on those relationships by working together on projects, sports, public speaking skills; they get to know each other.
Chapin American Legion Commander Steven Goulet underscores the importance of the Boys and Girls State experience by saying, “Boys (and Girls) State provides a great opportunity for these young men to learn about the political process and the functioning of our government. Being in an environment that is set up to replicate our governmental system and having the Boys run for positions within the mock government seems to be a sure fire way to build teamwork and for each of them gain an appreciation for others skills and abilities. They learn firsthand the importance of working together and compromising in order to reach intended goals.” Commander Goulet stresses how the $300 investment for each participant is worth it when considering, “For some of the kids I think it exposes them to an environment that they have never been exposed to and possibly enlightens them to the fact that they can make a difference and fit in in an environment that they never thought they could.”
Josh Senter participated in this year’s Boys State believes the program is, ...” without a doubt an extremely unique program. It is designed to prepare participants for adult political processes. I feel I grew a lot from the process and feel better prepared intellectually and even emotionally.” Perhaps most importantly, Josh remarked how, “Boys state really brought me into contact with people of different cultures and social classes. It was very insightful to hear about people’s lives who live in very different situations.”
Years from now these young men and women might one day hold office and look back on the lessons of compromise and shared experiences to guide them toward solutions. Last month in Chapin, people from diverse backgrounds got together to shake hands with the future. That’s a gift to be treasured.
For more information on Boys and Girls State contact: https://palmettoboysstate.com/what-is-boys-state/ or https://palmettogirlsstate.net
The Author: Zoltan “Z” Krompecher is a Green Beret who serves as 3rd Vice Commander at American Legion Post #193. His writings have appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, CBS News.com, the book “Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan and the Homefront” and other periodicals. He lives in Chapin with his wife and children.
Palmetto Boys State 2019 attendees Back ground from (LtoR) Isaiah Allgeyer, Reid Taylor, Benjamin Epting, Brandon Jolly, Samuel Corley, Mitchell Smith, Noah Davis, Joshua Senter, Haydn Sondgeroth, Ben Stinson and Asa McMeekin with front row (Lto R) Mayor David Knight, Representative Chip Huggins, Senator Ronnie Cromer, Post Cdr Steve Goulet, PBS Committee members, Bill Szalla, Bill Lindsay and Floyd Rogers. — with David Knight, Chip Huggins, Ronnie Cromer, Lorraine Margaret-Bruno Szala and Floyd Rogers at Chapin American Legion Post 193.