COLLEGEVILLE -- Hundreds of high school juniors have descended upon St. John’s University.

The 2022 American Legion Boys State of Minnesota is enjoying its sixth year on the St. John’s University Campus.

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Boys State is a week-long camp focused on learning about Minnesota government. State Director Kyle Oldre says Boys State is learning by doing.

It's the best way to learn about government. Juniors going into their senior year, learning all about government from local government and state government from a participatory perspective. They create their own government, and they learn it all the way through.

All delegates are randomly sorted into towns and political parties to run for city positions. This year, campers were sorted into six cities, according to Dean of Students David Way.

This year there is Rochester Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Winona, and St. Cloud.

The mayor of St. Cloud this year is Minneapolis native Ben Ertl. He says he didn’t consider running for office when he arrived at Boys State.

It was not a thought that I had at first, actually. And even when we were called for people who wanted to run, I did not stand at first, it took me a minute to stand up and say, I want to be the mayor of St. Cloud. And I was a little intimidated from everyone else running. But in the end, I ran with a platform of just wanting to have everyone be included, and to hear everyone's voice. And in the end. That's what got me to the position.

All delegates are selected by their local American Legion posts across the state. Boys State Director Kyle Oldre explains how the American Legion picks up the bill for the week-long camp.

It's actually funded by individual posts. So a student delegate will be nominated by a post, for example, my post is Hardwick, 478. This post pays for the participation of the students. So there's no cost to the student to be here. There's no family cost. For the student here, the American Legion, through its posts, sponsored the entirety of the program.

Boys State Governor Devon Selmon says it’s been a busy year since being elected at Boys State last year.

So after last year, I was blessed beyond belief to go to Boys Nation where I was flown out by the American Legion to DC and I did a similar a similar program. Following that I got multiple speaking opportunities through the American Legion. Through all of these to get to this year, the American Legion has just offered me a world of opportunities that I've been so happy to succumb myself into. And once you allow yourself to get involved, it will bless you.

This is the sixth year Boys State has been at St. John’s University, and they announced a new contract to stay at St. John’s through 2028.

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