Emotional pull of Boys State stems from life-changing experience

The answer is goosebumps.

Last week I wrote about how the American Legion Boys State of Kansas program was underway. I talked extensively about my love for the program, especially since the motto for the program is “Week That Changed My Life” applied to me by showing me the wonderful world of journalism.

However, I was still struggling with trying to put my finger on the emotional tie I have to Boys State. Falling in love with journalism doesn’t seem to be enough.

Well, as I said above, I figured it out. The answer is goosebumps.

This answer finally struck me during the closing ceremonies on Friday night in McCain Auditorium on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. There were five parts of this. One was moving rendition of “The Pledge of Allegiance” by Red Skelton.

It is a powerful piece. This made even more of an impact because of the way the stage was set up. It was a classroom scene. The flag, the teacher desk and the student desks were the only portions illuminated.

I got goosebumps. My patriotism swelled. My eyes began to fill with tears.

Then a counselor performed a dramatic reading of poem discussing a veteran return from war before dying and having flowers stolen from his grave.

I began to cry.

Then the entire Boys State delegation sang the National Anthem and saluted the veterans by singing yet another song.

The tears continued to flow.

Finally, advisor Mike Zimmers performed Don McClean’s “American Pie.”

I cried. I felt alive with patriotism. I got goosebumps.

And that’s when I knew. This program means so much to me because of the feelings of pride and value it gives me.

Before the program was over, I had one more experience of goosebumps. It was when I was talking to my three students that attended. They were so excited about everything they were all talking at once. Two of them said they filled out applications to come back as counselors.

I got goosebumps.

I am emotionally tied to this program because of the impact it has. Every year it renews me. Sure, it changed my life, and that is an emotional event in itself. However, it doesn’t hold a candle to seeing others be so moved by the program. Whether it is my students absolutely buzzing with excitement or seeing the entire delegation singing arm in arm as they sway to the music, those goosebumps are what get me.

I am so happy my life was changed, but my emotional tie is that I am able to help change the lives of others. There isn’t any better feeling in the world.

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About toddvogts 800 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, MJE, is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association, among others. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.