Girls, Girls, Girls, that’s all I see.

Functioning, lectures, elections, white dresses, and a week spent with nothing but girls. Can someone explain to me how this can possibly be fun? Why would I want to spend a week of my summer learning about government. Why would I want to spend a week on a college campus with a bunch of girls that I don’t even know? Why would someone take time out of their lives to be apart of this program?

I bet all of these questions ran through your mind when you found out you were going to be attending the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program for one week during your summer because I can tell you they ran through my mind. Sure, I had sisters who went to the same program, but it still scared me. I didn’t know what to actually expect. I didn’t understand how a week learning about government could be fun and that I could meet friends that would last forever.

I didn’t like the idea of having to dress up in business casual clothes all week. I didn’t like the idea of having to wear a white dress for graduation, mainly because it was hard to find a white dress. I didn’t like the idea of spending a week with a bunch of girls because I already went insane on a daily basis with growing up with three sisters. But let me tell you, now I count down the days until the week comes around.

In 2014, I got asked to attend the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program for my local legion post. I couldn’t turn down the offer because both of my older sisters had gone and I knew my mom would be upset with me if I did. I sucked it up and told them I would go and now I look back and I realize I would have hated myself if I had told them no.

Papers were filled out, information was sent to me, and the preparing and packing started. Business casual clothing was hard because I loved athletic clothes and all I could think is do they realize how hard it is to find a white dress that doesn’t cost a fortune?! My dad packed up the pickup and before I know it, I found myself standing in line for check in. Scared to find out who my roommate was. Hoping that I would get along with them and hoping that they also had no idea what to expect that week.

The first night was crazy. Introductions, a lecture on city government, and city elections! How were we suppose to elect people to run our mock city when we had no idea who each other were. Monday comes around and we are faced with city functioning, which we had no idea what to do, more lectures, and a run down of what the next day would be like. Tuesday morning hits and all of us are excited because it is jeans day (shout out to political party day) and we find ourselves splitting away from some of the girls we have now gotten to know. We split in Nationalists and Federalists and start talking about what our parties stand for and elect people for state offices. We are encouraged to run because the counselors tell us it will make the week 10x better. Half of us ran just to make them feel better and to speed up the process so we could get let out early. Elections are done and we move on to party night with the pep rally and off to the general election ballot we go. Voting on what girl gives us the best first impression and who we think would be the best representation of our part. Quickly the ballots are tallied and just like that you find yourself sitting in a room full of girls, watching the candidates run through a small skit to make you fall in love with them.

Wednesday is one for the books, mainly because this night is skit night. Skit night is the night we all live for during the week because first off, the week is almost over, and secondly, you work so hard on a skit to perform in front of the whole state, the Auxiliary ladies and men, and the Boys State Governor. Wednesday night the emotions start to sit in as you realize the girls that were once strangers are now your best friends and you don’t want to leave them on Friday. The nights start to get later and you get less sleep every day. Thursday morning rolls around and everyones nerves are on an all time high as you wait to hear the election results. The candidates feel a sense of defeat if their name is not called but they still smile for the girls who won. Then the state functioning happens. The day goes by fast and before you know it, its test night. HA, you didn’t expect that did you? A test, what kind of place is this?! Good thing most people don’t study. After the test you go back to your dorm, sit in the lounge with your city, and cry as you go over every memory of the week. You pack up your stuff and enjoy every last second with these girls.

Friday morning rolls around and everyone is in their white dresses. Looking beautiful and stunning as they walk into graduation where the tears become real and the goodbyes are coming shortly after. Congrats staters, you made it. You made it through a week of fun. You made friends that will last a life time and memories that will never fade away.

For me, this wasn’t the end of my journey at Girls State. In 2015, I was asked back as a junior counselor. The rolls would be flipped this year because I knew I didn’t have to sit through the lectures but instead I got to work on the flip side. I was excited but nervous because I didn’t want to fail at this job. It was a lot of work, but in the end it was worth it. You get close with your fellow co counselor and the other counselors. You get close with the rest of the girls state staff and you learn more about the Auxiliary ladies. I knew that I didn’t want this to be the end of it all and it wasn’t.

For the last two years I have gone back and attended Girls State as a senior counselor. The cities I have taught and mentored have been some of the greatest group of girls I have ever met in my entire life. From watching them run for state office and asking me for help on their speeches/ whistle stops, to having them all laughing in our city lounge at night because they were all comfortable around each other. It is something you will never forget. Sometimes you get so close with them, seven of them decide to have a sleep over in your room. These are the people who make the week worth it. The staters make the week of getting up early for meetings and going to bed late at night after making sure all of them are in bed worth it. The staters that give speeches on how much the program has changed them in such a short amount of time make giving up your time worth it. The Auxiliary Ladies who say thank you to you for taking time off from our other jobs and who also enjoy being there make this program worth it. The dedication from all the counselors and the staff make it worth your time. This program has inspired so many young ladies to go out and get involved in Government and we need more. So please, if you get asked to attend, please attend. I don’t regret it and I can promise you that you won’t either.

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