Cape High student attends Boys State, Boys Nation
A now-senior at Cape Coral High School had the opportunity to participate in the American Legion Boys State in Tallahassee, as well as the American Legion Boys Nation in Washington, D.C., two weeks that he will never forget.
“I highly recommend the program. Boys State and Boys Nation, they are amazing experiences. Florida Boys State, I will always remember,” Anthony Busatta said, referring to the slogan, “a week that shapes a lifetime.”
There were two representatives from each of the 49 Boys State that continued on to Boys Nation as senators. Boys State, which focused on state government, was held from June 19-25, followed by Boys Nation, which focused on federal government, from July 22-29.
Before going to Boys Nation he traveled to Tallahassee and was among 430 total participants. Busatta said the participants are divided into fictional cities and counties. He said the council member nominates one person and from those people, that pool, they hold interviews and narrow it down to six people, followed by additional interviews to choose two people who went on to Boys Nation.
“It was amazing. When I went into Boys State I never really seriously expected to actually get it, especially being from this part of the state. I think it’s cool to represent Southwest Florida and meet my senators in D.C. and debate public policy and talk to really cool people in D.C. You don’t have to be from a big city,” he said of being chosen for Boys Nation.
Although Boys State was an amazing experience, he said only half of the 430 participants took it seriously. With Boys Nation, he said only the best two from each state went forth.
Att Boys Nation they elected a president and other federal positions, creating an experience of a different calibur, especially with the general knowledge of people.
While at Boys Nation they were divided into two political parties, the Federalists and Nationalists. Each conducted a party convention, set a platform and nominated members for elected offices, including the Boys Nation president, vice president and party leaders. Each senator, during the week, also had the opportunity to write, introduce and debate a bill.
“There were some very knowledgeable people and passionate people. I met a libertarian who thought all drugs should be legal,” he said, adding that he met people from all parts of the political spectrum, all passionate about different issues ranging from gas prices to environmental issues.
Another difference between Boys State and Boys Nation was seeing the different issues around the state compared to the nation.
There were 98 people at Boys Nation, which made it a more personal experience as Busatta had an opportunity to talk to every single person there.
A day in the life of a senator at Boys Nation started at 6:30 a.m. and concluded around 11 p.m. The youths stayed at Marymount University in Virginia.
After dressing in red polos and slacks, the participants lined up and counted off before walking to breakfast, which was complete with a flag ceremony. The day would also include a senate session within the gym on the Marymount University campus where long tables were set up.
Busatta said the longest senate session was five hours talking about policies and passing bills.
Boys Nation also included tours of such places as Arlington National Cemetery and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, as well as listening to guest speakers.
Although Busatta’s sister is a state representative and he has visited Tallahassee during session providing a pretty good idea of how Florida government works, going to Boys Nation shed a great deal of light on how procedural things work at the national level.
“Being immersed in it and participating in it was a lot more valuable than reading about it,” he said. “It’s a different learning experience. We met all the arms of the government.”
After Busatta graduates from Cape Coral High School this year, he wants to pursue chemical engineering as a major and minor in political science. His dream school is Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“I do want to run for office one day, but as a degree I want to stick with engineering. I really like STEM stuff. I have taken some upper level math classes and intro to engineering. I want to stick to that,” he said. “My sister majored in political science, you can get into politics with any degree. I would rather be an engineer and run for office because I want to help people.”
Busatta encourages anyone who is remotely interested in politics to look into the American Legion Boys State. He said in addition to the amazing experience he made lifelong friends.
“I would never have known about this program without my sister who did Girls State. Apply even if you don’t think you can get it. If you do get it, it will be the most amazing week,” he said. “The American Legion does amazing things for youth and veterans as well.”