LAWRENCE TWP., NJ – Cameron Hund of Clark joined nearly 1,000 other rising high school juniors representing 325 New Jersey municipalities during last week’s American Legion Jersey Boys State (ALJBS) conference at Rider University. Hund represented Clark American Legion Post #328 and was a delegate to Boys State City # 6.
Boys State is a hands-on approach to government at the local, county and state level. Within 24 hours of their arrival, the boys formed 18 mythical cities, divided into political parties and elected a mayor and city council from within their ranks.
“Our city had crumbling buildings, crumbling education and lots of crime,” Hund said. He explained that each of the cities was given a challenging scenario on which to focus its efforts and problem-solve. Delegates in his city voted to construct a nuclear power-plant with an $8 million bailout it received in an effort to rebuild the city.
Hund said he learned about government and politics during his week away, but that the Boys State political process was considerably different than real-life politics.
“It was a lot more calm than what we see nowadays, in the elections going on right now,” Hund said.
His days consisted of workshops, classes and assemblies that featured such notable speakers as United States Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, Congressman Leonard Lance and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
“Real leadership is what you do when no one is watching,” Booker, a 1986 ALJBS alumni, said in his keynote address to the delegates. “This world is great, but we have a lot of work to do. Where we need to work most is teaching people to live their values.”
Hund said that the boys participated in athletic competitions throughout the week, created a media to report on activities and approximately 50 of the attendees participated in the Boys State band. He said the week was a worthwhile experience that he would highly recommend to others.
“I learned to always use every opportunity you get,” Hund said. “Don’t waste time. If you have the opportunity and don’t take it, it’s gone. You don’t get it back.”