George Cecil, right, pictured with Bob Skinner, center, the Idaho national executive member for the American Legion and Nathan Badger de Boise, left, who was also selected to attend Boys Nation in Washington, DC | Courtesy of George Cecil
MACKAY – A local teenager travels to Washington, DC to represent Idaho on a national youth program with the American Legion.
George Cecil, 18, of Mackay, is one of two Idaho teenagers who have been selected to attend Boys Nation, a week-long camp where two student candidates from each state will compete for a scholarship. $ 10,000. This year’s camp runs July 23-30, and applicants will participate in a variety of activities during their trip.
Candidates will learn how the federal government works by running a mock presidential campaign. Each delegate will be divided into two political parties, organize a party congress, establish a platform and appoint members for elected positions. Participants will also draft, table and debate a bill before a committee. Throughout the week, they will visit the White House and other national sites and meet with President Biden or Vice President Harris, as well as US Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.
Cecil tells EastIdahoNews.com that he is honored to have been selected for this prestigious honor and looks forward to the connections he can make during the trip.
âThey are some of the most elite people in the country and I look forward to meeting and working with them,â Cecil said. “I am really excited for the opportunity.”
The American Legion is the largest national wartime veterans service organization dedicated to defending patriotism across the United States. . There are many positions throughout Idaho including one in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, and Pocatello.
Cecil, who is in his final year of high school, joined his local post in Mackay last year. The inspiration for joining the group came, in part, from her grandfather’s service in the military.
âOur job is really small,â Cecil says. âAs my position is small, we didn’t have young people so I thought it would be nice to join us as they need help with all the projects they are working on. I just thought it would be a good way to give back to the community and help.
After joining the post, Cecil learned that the Legion sponsored a youth education program called Boys State, which teaches high school students about government at city, county and state levels. Cecil decided to apply and became one of two members of the post to attend this year’s camp at Gowan Field in Boise last month.
During the camp, participants ran a mock campaign for governor, passed bills and held elections. The delegates learned about parliamentary procedures, the functioning of the judiciary and the functions of the three branches of government.
George was voted Outstanding Citizen at this year’s event and won the post of State Comptroller. In addition to winning a coveted position at Boys Nation, George was awarded the Samsung Scholarship.
âIt was one of the best weeks of my life. I have learned so much about parliamentary procedure and how our government and the justice system work. I highly recommend it to any high school student, boy or girl. It was one of the best things I have ever done, âsays Cecil.
Gaining the opportunity to visit Washington, DC was no small feat for Cecil. He managed to maintain a 3.9 GPA while winning 5th place in the wrestling state finals earlier this year. He is also a volunteer firefighter and a volunteer at his local food bank.
âI worked a lot to get there. It must have been the hand of the Lord because there were things that happened in my favor at Boys State that are pretty inexplicable, âCecil says. âI feel quite unworthy. I never imagined that I could have gone this far.
As for why Cecil is so involved in his community at such a young age, he says his experience as a homeschooled student has given him a different perspective than most teens and that he wants to make the most of his time.
âI feel like being a teenager is a really good opportunity to really prepare for your future. I have so much time compared to the rest of my life. Most teens waste this time and I want to use it for something productive, âhe says.
Cecil doesn’t know where he wants to go in college and hasn’t decided exactly what he wants to do for a living yet, but he’s leaning into something business-related. He is currently taking courses at the College of Eastern Idaho to earn some college credits before he graduates.
After his experience at Boys State, Cecil says he’s also considering getting into politics.
âI cannot begin to express how valuable this program is to the education of our young people and the future of our country. Legionaries have truly continued their service to our country by sponsoring and organizing this camp. I would like to encourage all high school students to apply to participate in this program, âsaid Cecil.
The name of the other Idaho student accepted to Boys Nation is Nathan Badger of Boise. Cecil and Badger join a prestigious Boys Nation alumnus who includes former President Bill Clinton, Governors Chris Christie and Scott Walker, and Senators Mike Lee and Tom Cotton. Notable Boys State alumni include Tom Brokaw, Michael Jordan, Rush Limbaugh, Jon Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Neil Armstrong, Roger Ebert and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.