A Memorable Trip
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond provides positive exposure to a wide variety of opportunities to give young people a vision for their futures. Throughout the years, the Keystone Club has empowered youth to realize their strengths and become leaders in their Clubs and communities.
The Keystone Club, sponsored by Boys & Girls Clubs of America, affords teens an opportunity to gain valuable leadership and service experience through academic success, career exploration, community service, and teen outreach. Each year, 1,500 members and advisors from across the country come together for the National Keystone Conference.
The Southside Club, which is very active in Keystone, sent nine members and two advisors to the conference, July 11-13, in Orlando, Fla. To help offset the cost of the trip, the teens planned and held several fundraising events, including a car wash and a family brunch celebration.
The Conference, which was themed “Imagine. Do. Become.,” featured high-energy experiences in the areas of academic success, career exploration and healthy lifestyles while inspiring them to use their voices and be heard. Each member selected a specific programming track which allowed them explore their own interests and participate in thought-provoking discussions and workshops.
“Keystone is a group of kids coming together to make big ideas happen,” said Bright, who was one of seven Southside members to experience the conference for the first time and one of a handful who took their first plane ride. “I learned so much. I received my certification with a CPR course and the self-image workshop inspired me to be more confident in who I am and how I look and be happy just for me.”
Each night there was a themed activity, allowing members to meet and interact with their peers from different clubs.
“I like meeting new people and learned a lot about the kids from all over the country,” said Kwelasia, who was attending her second Keystone Conference. “I really like dancing, so it was fun learning how they dance where they’re from.”
One of the most valuable sessions was the motivational keynote delivered by former NFL wide receiver Trent Shelton. He talked with the teens about never giving up or getting discouraged if people tell them they can’t accomplish something or make something of their lives.
“People told him he couldn’t be a motivational speaker because was a football player, he had dreads and tattoos. But look at him now; he’s out there talking to a lot of people with no criticism,” recalled Kwelasia. “He inspired me. He said, ‘don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because of the way you look.’”
A trip to Florida wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Walt Disney World. The teens spent their final afternoon in the Magic Kingdom, building bonds and, simply, having fun.
Whether it is getting on a plane for the first time, connecting with peers, learning a valuable life lesson, or bringing a new skill back to the Club, the Keystone Conference has served as one of the defining moments in a young person’s experience at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond.