Media Corps: The Core of My Boys’ State Experience
By Dom Borbon
June 17, 2016
Only a few weeks ago, the Boys State program was a foreign name to me, and I had little knowledge of the organization known as American Legion. Consequently, when I was called into my counselor’s office to be offered the chance to partake in the Texas Boys State, I was shocked and overwhelmed—overwhelmed that my teachers saw even a glimmer of leadership in me, and overwhelmed that I would soon meet with more than a thousand of the most motivated boys in the state.
During the days leading up to Boys State, fears and uncertainties about the experiences I would encounter at the program plagued me and served as some of my main inhibitions. Despite my uncertainties with Boys State, a surprise turn of events radically changed my outlook on the as I met one of the most dedicated and talented groups of people I have ever encountered. As I contemplated my fears of the upcoming week on my bus ride to Austin, little did I known that a single group—Boys State Media Corps—would ultimately change the way I viewed my talents, the people around me, and life itself.
Only a few hours after my arrival at Boys State, I found myself reluctantly and timidly giving a speech to get selected as my city’s Media Corps representative. It was only until later when I realized that my decision to give that short and shaky speech as I tripped over my own tongue would be one of the greatest decision I have ever made during my stay here. Later that night, after only winning the vote of my city by a slim margin, I abruptly entered into the complicated world of media. Only an hour into meeting the Media Corps, I was pushed into a group of equally-awkward teens as we struggled to tape our first segments.
Haphazardly we worked with unfamiliar technology and with unfamiliar people at our sides. Little did we known that with every tape we recorded, every step we took outside in the sweltering sun, every edit and cut we made, every hectic and crazy moment we spent together, we were strengthening bonds between us that would affect us profoundly. For the most part, these bonds didn’t make themselves evident to us until much later, or sometimes it seemed we struck friendships right away, but no matter the case, we knew by the end of our time together that the bonds we made would last a lifetime.
So unexpectedly, my fears and my uncertainty seemed to have drifted away, and in its place, I found a camaraderie and a joy that was forged surprisingly in the stress and chaos-laden atmosphere of Media Corps. I found myself motivated again motivated by the hard work of my peers and the proof that success can be achieved even in the most dire circumstances. I found myself no longer afraid of failure because of my shortcoming but rather I found that I embraced my shortcomings and my failures as I learn from them and move forward with new lessons learned.
Finally, now I find myself at the end of my Boys State experience, looking back at the seemingly short week—a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of life—I find that the insight I have seen, the friendships I have witnessed, and the vision I see for me and my fellow statesmen’s futures are immeasurable for the time I have been given here. For this, I am unfathomably indebted to the American Legion, Texas Boys State, and most importantly, my friends at media corps that have seen me through all of it.
Daily Life at Boys State
By Dom Borbon
June 15, 2016
The goal of this week’s program is to teach young leaders about the political system of the US, and one of the most important aspects of this program are the daily life and interactions Statesmen experience during their stay here.
In order for the statesmen to truly have an unforgettable time at Texas Boys State, not only must the political process, campaigns, and speeches be unforgettable, but the small details of the stay here—the friendships we make, the meals we have, the streets we tread—must also be equally as unforgettable.
Aside from the political process, daily life here at Boy’s State can be quite taxing. For most statesmen, waking up early after a long night of politics is one of the hardest part of the day; not to mention color guard and other groups that wake up long before sunrise to prepare for the upcoming day.
Despite the challenges of force oneself to rise from deep sleep, Statesmen are greeted by the warm welcome and hard work of the kitchen staff. The lines in the cafeteria go quickly despite the hundreds of Statesmen who need to be fed, and the food is amazing and satisfying to say the least.
The most impressive aspect of our meals here at Boys State is the variety of main courses, sides, and desserts that are available to us. Considering the appetite of most teenage boys, the kitchen staff truly does a wonderful job feeding and keeping the program’s participants fueled for a long day of politics and activities.
The Color Guard
By Johnathan Stewart
Day 5 --- June 11, 2015
Color Guard: the name bring up images of ROTC members in full uniform marching the flag to center filed during a football game, or posting colors during Prom. But the truth is, to be a a member of the Color Guard means much more than just handling the state and national flags. Michael Robles believes "Color Guard is very important, because it's what we to to respect our nation." Cadet Josh Burley takes the description a step further, when stating "Color Guard is a representation of your city... it's an honor for me as a member of Boys State to be asked to carry the colors." Jared Beckstrand echoes this sentiment, "It's an honorable experience to be a part of something so great."
And an honor it should be. The Color Guard is one of the most important groups at Boys State. As well as raising and lowering the flags every morning and evening, they are the only unit able to retire the United States flag at the end of the year, an honor that gives members the right to all the pride they express.
The Press of Boys State
By Cameron Fisher
Day 4 --- June 10, 2015
As a member of the Press Corps, my experience, and the experiences of my peers, have been vastly different than those of the rest of the statesmen. We have spent our days moving from building to building, meeting to meeting, convention to convention: shooting, photographing and interviewing. We've seen it all, but none of us have seen the same thing, and though there's moments I know I've missed, the freedom and responsibility that I, and the rest of the press, have been given has kept us busy.
Without fail, the Statesmen have demonstrated vigor, enthusiasm, and passion. No matter their views, everyone we have seen has demonstrated their willingness to listen. Time and time again, the comments made during dignitaries' talks or controversial speeches prove this: "Wow, that's interesting," "I never thought about that," "I'm really glad they had this Libertarian speak." While many are not prescribed to the ideology, the consistently intelligent and open minded response to conflicting views (regardless of what those views are) is a testament to the integrity of these Statesmen.
However, the statesmen have also demonstrated great loyalty to their parties. Both have been loud, boisterous, and prideful. On Tuesday, I stood on stage, in front of the entire Nationalist convention, filming Miles Neal. The roar was deafening. Running across stage to catch an interview, camera in hand, I could feel the energy radiating from the auditorium. And this energy was palpable no matter where Statesmen were gathered, no matter the party. It's no wonder we're all exhausted.
Running around campus, armed with camera and pen, has allowed me, and the rest of the Corps, to see the best of Boys State, and for many of us, to do so with a non- partisan outlook. Though each of us naturally missed events, combined we have seen nearly all of Boys State, and though we may not fully be aware of the politics within our own parties, we have been allowed a different understanding of politics, democracy, and freedom; an awareness of the power that media and free speech has within politics.