The American Legion Boys State of Kansas and Kansas State University have extended their partnership to keep the Boys State annual summer conference on the K-State campus for five more years, through 2015.
The 2011 Kansas Boys State will be June 5-11. K-State has been home to Kansas Boys State since 1991.
"K-State is like the operating system to our application," said Thane Chastain, director of development for Kansas Boys State. "They are so efficient, they allow us to run smoothly. Everything goes like clockwork."
Boys State attendees, who have just finished their junior year in high school, learn about leadership by creating a mock government and running for various offices, which Chastain called the learning-by-doing method. The week's activities also include recreation time, a band and chorus concert directed by K-State staff, a talent show and a closing ceremony -- with loads of pomp and circumstance -- in McCain Auditorium.
Nearly 600 Boys State attendees, staff and counselors took over Marlatt and Goodnow residence halls and Kramer Dining Center on the campus for a week last June.
"We knew the program would work very well if they had their own space," said Chuck Werring, assistant vice president for K-State housing and dining services. "Housing and dining's business is to provide excellent services, facilities and staff. We thought the Kramer complex and its facilities would be the best match for the needs and desires of the program."
Chastain, who is involved with American Legion Boys State on a national level, has an appreciation for how smoothly things go at K-State, compared to issues other states have had.
"I get to hear what other programs experience," said Chastain, "and I know they don't all have a close, positive relationship with the university like we do. What's critical to the success of the program are the off-season planning meetings we have each fall and spring to evaluate what worked and what needs to change. Also, K-State allows us to store our gear during the off-season, which is a real convenience, as hauling it back and forth takes away from the time it takes to run the program successfully."
Werring has admiration for the Boys State contingent as well, citing their special relationship and calling the conference one of the most fun events K-State gets to help put on each year.
"K-State wants to promote leadership development," Werring said. "We cherish the opportunity to be able to participate in this activity."
Chastain said the partnership allows many of the state's boys to be exposed to K-State, but more important, it models what an ideal conference can be.
"Chuck will say, 'Welcome home,' and it's an accurate description," Chastain said. "Our people feel that way when we walk into Kramer. We're home."