AL SD Boys State

78th SESSION – Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD; May 31 - June 4, 2021


Boys State is a nationwide program. Last year there were 50 American Legion sponsored Boys States in operation. The American Legion in the state of Illinois began this far-reaching activity in 1935.

South Dakota Boys State was founded at Aberdeen in 1940 and subsequent meetings were held in 1941 and 1942. World War II made it necessary to drop this activity, but in 1946 South Dakota Boys State was resumed. So many prominent Legionnaires participated in the organization of South Dakota Boys State that it is somewhat unfair to mention names, but some of the more active promoters were N. Peter Wenge, Ivan Huntsinger, Dr. Harry Darling, Mr. Charles Dalthorp, all of Aberdeen, and Judge Harry Mundt, all now deceased. The excellent organization of this program is due largely to their planning and foresight. A plaque on the Northern State campus has been erected in their honor by former Boys Staters.

American Legion Boys State of South Dakota has a two-fold purpose. First, to better help youth understand and appreciate the American system of government and way of life including the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Secondly, to give a better knowledge of the fundamental principles of government within the State of South Dakota. These objectives are sought by establishment of a mythical 51st State of Union, comprised of counties and cities, giving Boys State actual experience in control and operation of these units of government. The American Legion wants the Boys of South Dakota to understand the problems of government as well as how it functions.

Upon reaching Boys State, citizens are assigned to one of two mythical political parties and to residence in a specific city and county. The two parties are designated as "Federalist" and "Nationalist", with absolutely no connection with political parties as they exist in South Dakota today. With the exception of city elections, which are non-political as they are in South Dakota, party caucuses and conventions are held, with full slates of officers elected at county and state level. Appointive offices are also filled.

Selection as a Boys State Delegate is competitive. All junior class boys are eligible to compete. In Custer County, the selection process begins with each new year. Junior Class boys are notified of the program and later briefed regarding its purpose and structure. Those boys interested apply for the program and are subsequently interviewed. Selection as a delegate is based on interview, recommendation, and observed activities over the years.

American Legion Posts select Boys State Delegates. Custer Post #46 of Custer City and Battle Creek Post #303 of Hermosa work together to select delegates from Custer County. Following their selection, delegates begin preparation for this summer program. Prior to departing for Boys State, all Custer County delegates will participate in a one day orientation session. Then finally they will begin their lifelong development as responsible, informed American citizens through this year's South Dakota Boys State session.


This starts with interest. It is the responsibility of each Junior Class boy to make his interest known. This needs to be done in early January. And those to be contacted are any of the following:


As with everything, various steps must be completed by specified dates to participate in SD Boys State. These dates are being finalized and will be updated here. Further information is contained in the documents attached at the end of this webpage.

Thank you for your interest in South Dakota Boys State.

Keep watching this page for updated information!