What is Girls/Boys State?

This year, Apple Original Films and A24 released “Boys State”, a documentary that follows a group of high school boys who are enrolled in a nation-wide summer camp for which the documentary is named after. But what actually is Girls/Boys State? And what inspired this idea of throwing together a group of high school students and challenging them to create their own government?

  1. 1. The History Behind Girls/Boys State.

    ALA Girls State and AL Boys State were both created in the 1930s by The American Legion Auxiliary (Girls State) and The American Legion (Boys State). Both of these parent organizations were originally founded with the purpose of supporting veterans after the conclusion of WWI. However, fearful of the growing number of Soviet Young Pioneer Camps at the time, ALA and AL were inspired to create an alternative version of these summer camps which would educate American youth about the importance of democracy and patriotism.

  2. 2. It’s Purpose.

    The main purpose of Girls/Boys State is to educate high school students on their rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens. Participants have the opportunity to learn through hands-on experience how the different levels of government operate.

  3. 3. When and Where They Meet.

    Girls/Boys State is a one-week event that takes place every summer. They are held in almost every state across the nation--usually on college campuses!

  4. 4. Requirements to Join.

    Girls/Boys State is extremely selective, with only about one or two juniors nominated per high school in a given state. The specifics of eligibility vary slightly depending on the state, however, the basic requirements include: being a legal inhabitant of the United States, possessing a strong interest in government affairs, exhibiting strong leadership/moral skills, and demonstrating above-average scholastic achievement. Surprisingly, in almost all cases, Girls/Boys State is completely free for participants!

  5. 5. What They Do.

    During Girls/Boys State, participants are divided into two parties: the Nationalists (or “Nats”) and the Federalists (or “Feds”). From there, the parties each elect mock officials such as governors, mayors, and state legislators. Throughout the week, students learn the inner workings of government by participating in mock trials and legislative sessions--where both parties attempt to create and pass bills.

  6. 6. Girls/Boys Nation.

    U.S. Capitol building in Washington DC

    For an added level of competition, each year two girls and two boys are chosen from their respective Girls/Boys State to move up to the national level: Girls/Boys Nation. There, participants act mock senators--following actual U.S. Senate rules. Students chosen for Girls/Boys Nation also have the opportunity to meet with elected officials and tour important federal agencies and historical sites in Washington D.C.!

BOYS STATE is an Apple Original Films and A24 Release. Now Available on Apple TV+.