The American Legion Boys State program is conducted in 49 states, attracting more than 22,000 young men each year. Through the week-long program, young delegates learn how municipal, county and state level governments function by actually doing the job themselves.
In 1935, the late Alexander A. LaFleur of Portland, the Maine Department Commander, laid the groundwork for the first Dirigo Boys State program to be held on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono. With the guidance and direction of the late James L. Boyle, then State Department Adjutant, the implementation and operations of the first Dirigo Boys State session began to take form. On July 11, 1947, Maine students enrolled in a new tradition of learning. Today, six decades after its inception, Dirigo Boys State continues to teach Maine high school juniors the importance of our American way of life on the campus of Thomas College in Waterville. The American Legion Boys State program is among the most respected and selective educational programs of civics instruction in the country.
Every year, two delegates from each Boys State program are selected to represent their state at Boys Nation, the American Legion's national-level program.