Senior capitalizes on experiences gained through Boys Nation

While most people learn about how the legislature works in their government class, very few people have the chance to go through the procedures of Congress. This summer, senior Caleb Merell was chosen for this opportunity and was able to go to Washington DC with Boys Nation.

“After I got to go to Boy’s State, I was able to go to Boy’s Nation, which is a mock federal government put on in Washington DC,” Caleb said. “I got to meet a lot of really awesome people and represent Bryan-College Station, which is probably my biggest honor to date.”

To attend Boys State, students are invited by their school and must go through an application process.

“Boys State is a camp that juniors can attend over the summer before their senior year,” counselor Justin Estes said. “It is great for learning by experience about how the local, state, and national governments operate.”

Initially, Caleb knew nothing about Boys State until a teacher brought it up to him.

“Boys State was a last-second thing where I was in class and my teacher, Mrs. Mack, said it would probably be a good idea if I tried,” Caleb said. “She told me I should definitely try out for [Boys State], and I agreed.”

At Boys State, students participate in a mock government and go through everything from legislative sessions to court proceedings. 

“The primary purpose is to develop a sense of civic leadership and pride in American citizenship,” Estes said. “Attendees learn all about the rights and privileges as well as duties and responsibilities that come along with being a U.S. citizen.”

Though the students were participating in serious activities, the event did not solely consist of work.

“At night, we would recite the different songs we learned over the week,” Caleb said. “All the guys would be together, and that’s when they would give the events of the day. We would [play sports] and that sort of thing, so we were getting to meet kids more often.”

During Boys State, 16 students out of more than 1,500 are selected as the primary lineup of candidates to attend Boys Nation. After submitting a resume and attending a series of interviews, Caleb was selected as one of the two representatives from Texas.

“When I found out I was going to get to go to Washington DC, I knew where my Dad was sitting in the audience,” Caleb said. “I kind of looked at him, and it was this moment where we both went ‘Ah! This is happening!’ and he started laughing hysterically because it was a really big deal.”

Caleb gained national exposure as one of the two Texas representatives and put Bryan on the map with his participation.

“Caleb is an outstanding young man with great potential,” Estes said. “He is a great representative for his family, our campus, and our community.”

At Boys Nation, students act as senators and learn procedures and methods for passing federal legislation. However, they also participate in lectures and have the opportunity to tour the capital.

“Seeing the monuments with a lot of the different veterans was insane because a lot of them had fought in the wars like Vietnam,” Caleb said. “It was a really big deal being there.”

Throughout the process, Caleb was supported by the legionnaires and the students he’d met.

“The legionnaires at our post have backed me up 100%,” Caleb said. “The kids that were there were so supportive, even when I won. There was a sense of selflessness that though, they didn’t win it, they were so supportive of the fact that when I went I would be bringing them with me.”

Caleb currently hopes to earn a political science or law degree at A&M. 

“I really enjoy working directly with people,” Caleb said. “I’m in a family with seven kids, so I’ve had to learn how to get along with people. That was my favorite part of [Boys Nation]: getting to shake people’s hands, meet people, and see what their opinions are.”

Even if Caleb decides not to pursue politics, he learned valuable lessons from the experience.

“I’d definitely use [the experience] when I’m voting for a certain candidate,” Caleb said. “I’ll know first-hand what it’s like to be in government and who, according to my opinion, would be the best person to fill the spot.”