Camp for Teens Teaches Government - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/17/05

Camp for Teens Teaches Government

Summer camp is usually canoe races and bug bites. But for hundreds of teens this week, it's about passing laws and winning elections. The American Legion put on a weeklong party for teens...a political party that is.

Between the humor and the high fives, it may look like any other summer camp. But future governors, senators even presidents may be in the crowd at Georgia Southern University. Campers at Boys State and Girls State see government and politics in a whole new light.

"Before I came here, I looked at politics as kind of dirty and iffy and I've learned more about it," said camper John Lee.

As citizens of a fictitious state, they elect leaders, write laws and run their own government.

"So many people nowadays don't participate like they should, and yes we do harp on patriotism because this is a great country," said Boys State director Keith Hardman.

Across campus, the girls camp is a little more reserved, but just as focused. "It is important for them to know politics is what keeps our country running and how important it is to get involved," said Girls State governor Antone Ryan.

And for anyone who thinks this generation doesn't get it, Deedy Harrell, Girls State director, told us, "Some of what they sing about in cheers and stuff goes over my head, but when it comes down to their ability to know what we're given them and take it out there, our country is in very good hands."

Probably only a handful of these teens will run for office, but most will pay more attention to the people who do.

This week, the two camps hosted a combined 650 teens, rising seniors at their high schools from across the state. The girls' camp finished up today and the boys leave for home tomorrow.

Four of them, two of each, will attend Boys Nation and Girls Nation later this year.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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