A week that shapes a lifetime.

 

Keystone Boys State (KBS) is a week-long summer experience organized by the American Legion that focuses on civics and leadership development. KBS is a week of:

Leadership Training

The core of the KBS program is hands-on skill development and structured guidance from experienced leaders. Participants learn to be a better leader by “learning-by-doing” as part of a group of 20-30 other young men from across Pennsylvania. This active learning is enhanced and strengthened by guidance from counselors and members of the American Legion as well as structured classroom lectures by elected officials, senior military officers, experienced businessmen, and leading journalists.

Civics Experience

Participants are organized into “cities” in the simulated “51st State of Keystone,” where they’re forced to respond to real-world challenges drawn from Pennsylvania and its cities. Participants run for elected state and local office and work together to develop solutions to the challenging political, social, and economic problems facing our state.

Scholarship opportunity

Participants learn about the practical realities of our government and political process and have an opportunity to earn college credit from our host institution, Shippensburg University.

Personal Growth

KBS is an opportunity for incredible personal growth, as participants are challenged to face new situations and overcome complex interpersonal and political problems. The week is also a chance for participants to meet smart, driven young men—their peers—from all across our state.

 

The Week

 

The government simulation—of the mythical 51st state of “Keystone”—is the heart of the KBS program. There are three main aspects to this simulation:

1. Organize Cities

Upon arrival, participants—who we call “citizens” from the moment of their arrival—are organized into eight “cities,” each with 20 to 30 citizens. Each city is loosely modeled on a different city in Pennsylvania—complete with a unique history, culture, and a complex set of challenges that the city leadership must address.

2. Solve Problems

Each city, as well as the entire state of Keystone, is confronted with a set of challenges that citizens must work together to resolve. Some of these challenges may be political issues, requiring intense debate, negotiation, and compromise to achieve a solution. Others may be practical obstacles that require careful deliberation, intense planning, and meticulous execution to overcome. Still others—perhaps the most challenging—will be the interpersonal disputes that inevitably arise among a group of people with different backgrounds, beliefs, and objectives. Throughout the week, each city is assessed on their ability to solve these problems, with one city emerging as the Honor City of the week.

3. Achieve Your Goals

Ultimately, KBS is a personal experience, and each citizen defines what would constitute a “successful week” differently. Some citizens hope to run for office, aiming to be elected Mayor, State Senator, or even Governor. Others prefer to work behind the scenes, helping craft ordinances as the City Manager, win debates in the House of Representatives, or report on happenings around Keystone as a reporter for the newspaper or TV station. Some take another route altogether, building a profitable business or passing the bar exam to represent other citizens in the courts. KBS is customizable, and you will be given opportunities to learn and grow in whatever area you find most interesting.

 

 
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The KBS staff is composed of:

  • Counselors: Outstanding KBS alumni who provide guidance and encouragement to citizens, helping them get the most out of the program.

  • Mentors: American Legion members who bring their experience and wisdom to the program, helping citizens grow and ensuring they understand the broader context and aims of KBS—to enable leadership development and promote a centered approach to civic participation.