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Me and the boys

June 16, 2008 - Cindy Votruba
For this week, I get to spend time with more than 400 boys. OK, I’m covering Minnesota’s American Legion Boys State. But when you’re one of the few women at the event, weaving in and out of a large group of men and boys in the conference center and toting a camera, you tend to be quite noticeable.

I was at last year’s Boys State as well; the first time it's been in Marshall and at SMSU. So it was a big deal for us down here in southwest Minnesota. There are the boys who really get gung-ho about Boys State, campaigning for offices, speaking their mind on certain issues or even thinking about coming back the following year as a counselor. Then there are those who are mainly there to listen, or maybe spend a week away from home.

Last year, I think I made an impression on the boys who were living in the “city” of Austin (Boys Staters are divided into 14 cities and then live in the residence halls designated as that “city”). One kid, (I think he was from Mound), in particular would see me in the hallway or wherever and just wave or say hi. His mother even wanted me to send a copy of the first article I wrote that had him in it. This past January, he recognized me at the Schwan Speech Spectacular. I had to admit he looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. At first I thought he was from Tracy. I said hi and asked him what category he competed in.

And now this year, I think I made an impression in the city of Duluth. Why did I pick Duluth, I don’t know. I was following a kid and his parents, so I could probably talk to them for my kick-off story. I ended up seeing how kids, who didn’t necessarily know each other, bond and have fun while watching the Twins play the Brewers. A couple of the boys recognized each other because they were in the same Cub Scout pack, but hadn’t seen each other in years. I had mentioned to the boys that I went to college at UMD. A couple of the guys had asked me why there. I said back probably when they were born, 1990, I went to a college fair and saw the college’s booth (boy did that make me feel old!). A lot of my classmates from Somerset High School were going to the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, which was only 30 miles down the road. I just wanted to be a little different I guess. And I fell in love with Lake Superior, Canal Park, Gooseberry Falls, Enger Tower, Park Point, Brighton Beach, everything Duluth and the North Shore had to offer.

Today I was asked by a few of the guys from Duluth if I was going to be there all week. Oh yeah, I said. Now I think I’m going to get a few more waves or heys in the hallway.


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