The American Legion is looking for a few good young men to learn about civics.
The veterans organization is hoping to sponsor 250 teens at Boys State this spring to celebrate 80 years of the annual event to educate teens.
"They get to live civics," said Jay Bowen, who is heading the Legion's Boys State efforts in Colorado.
Held at Colorado State University at Pueblo, the event brings in high school juniors for a week that sees them create their own government from the ground up.
The boys form local authorities, a mock state legislature and select senators for a national congress.
"They create their own parties and they create platforms," Bowen said. "They learn how to write bills."
The Legion has sponsored the event since 1935 as part of its mission to mentor youth and spur "Americanism." And that sponsorship means the boys at Boys State will enjoy the Legion's hospitality.
"They don't pay," Bowen said.
The Legion and sponsors come up with more than $300 per head to pay for the mock congress, food and lodging.
Bowen says it's important to note that Boys State isn't a recruiting tool for the military or for the Legion. The organization supports the mock congress, but strives to keep partisan politics out. Boys can join Federalist or Nationalist "parties," but can't act as Republican or Democrat boosters.
To get there, boys need to sign up on the Internet at colegionboysstate.org. The boys will be contacted by local Legion representatives who will walk them through the process.
The boys will spend some time from May 31 to June 6 in dorms in Pueblo, and long days are planned. Breakfast starts before 7 a.m. and the legislative day can run until 10 p.m.
"It is one week in their life that will change their life forever," Bowen said.
They will learn politics along the way from local luminaries and state leaders. Past participants have included the governor, City Council members from across the Front Range and members of Congress.
It's not set up as a place for only A-students.
"We don't turn away any boy who applies," Bowen said. "The only requirement we put on Boys State is the desire to attend."
Some boys who have attended Boys State have gone to exceptional adulthood.
Alumni of the program include President Bill Clinton and basketball legend Michael Jordan.
"Most of these guys will attribute a lot of their early success to what they learned at Boys State," Bowen said.