JACKSON’S MILL, W.Va. (WBOY) — In mid-June, rising high school seniors from around the state will gather at Jackson’s Mill for the 84th annual Mountaineer Boys State. The week-long summer experience gives boys a chance to not just learn about government, but take part as well.

“Boys State teaches the young men better government through participation. If you want something to work well, you need to participate in it, you need to be knowledgeable of it. Boys State does that,” said Boys State Director Robbie Robinson.

From the moment they arrive on a Sunday, some of the citizens of Boys State will begin running for public office, everything from governor and senate to sheriff and mayor. For the rest, there’s a host of other options open to them, including working in banking, journalism or becoming emergency responders, to name a few.

“So there’s a lot of career paths that they can pick from that are in normal life that they would use, and the boys can pick these when they get there and pursue that career,” Robinson said.

Robinson thinks it can be an intense week for the boys, but one where they can learn a lot, and gain a better understanding of the challenges facing parts of West Virginia they may not know as well.

“After they’re there awhile they start networking with other guys and they start learning other experiences and get other experiences from folks from down south or up in the west or east and they bond very quickly,” Robinson said.

It’s those connections that he and others on staff hope will help to make a difference for West Virginia’s future down the line.

The Legion family of organizations also offers a similar program for girls of the same age. The Rhododendron Girls State is held around the same time each year at Davis & Elkins College.

You can find more information, including how to apply for either program and the requirements for each on the websites for Boys State and Girls State.