All across the county Boys & Girls Club teens are working on service projects to attend the National Keystone Conference. Our teens are no different. Keystone is a service and leadership program focused on academic success, career preparation, community service, and teen outreach. In 2019 two of our Keystone clubs in King County completed their charter and got to attend the by 2019 conference. On the back of such a powerful experience our Keystoners across the county were rallying to attend the 2020 national conference in bigger numbers than ever before. Unfortunately, as with so many things over 2020 it was canceled and postponed. In 2021 a virtual conference was held and our Keystoners participated but it was not the same as the in-person experience. Now in 2022 four of our County Keystones have earned the ability to attend the national conference. One club has even been able to reach gold with the help of a farmer Keystoners dedicated to helping his peers attend the conference, so they could experience what he did.

Part of what makes the Keystone experience so powerful is the national project. Keystone is divided into tiers, there is Keystone Club, Silver Club, Gold Club, and Legacy Club. Only clubs that are silver and above can attend the national conference. Getting to silver is no laughing matter. Members must complete a combined 500 service hours, host community events, host events in the key areas of keystone, and much more. However, the main responsibility of Keystoners is the national project. Each year the national keystone committee chooses a topic that is affecting teens across the nation. This year the project centered around climate change.

Keystone in 2022

Over the last few months each of our Keystone clubs have met and planned a project that addresses climate change. There are no rules about what kind of project a keystone club does as long as it addresses the overall theme.

At one club Keystoners organized a local beach cleanup in Seattle. They watched videos about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They picked a beach that they knew from experience has lots of garbage and a problem with littering especially after Saturday nights. Students planned supplies needed and came up with a recruitment strategy to get more volunteers. They created a poster with a QR code to hang up at their high school. They brought the flyers to the two environmental clubs at their school as well as getting the event announced during the morning announcements.

Another Keystone worked with Club staff and community partners, Sustainable Bainbridge, to learn about how pollutants enter our water systems and what effects it has on the ecosystem. They learned it comes from trash, everyday chemicals and how rain pushes it all into our water system. They had a conversation on why reusable packing is a better option than just recycled packing.

Wallingford Keystone

Our Wallingford Keystone Program hosted a club takeover on earth day and prepared and led programming for the whole club. Creating games to teach the younger members about sustainability and climate change.

North Seattle Keystone

At the North Seattle Club Keystoners addressed climate change and a healthy environment. The Keystone group is helping with community cleanup days, educating elementary and middle schoolers on climate, as well as running events for them. Since this event was designed for our Keystone group to work with the younger kids, no new Teen members were recruited.

Here at the Boys & Girls Club we are so proud of the hard work our teens are putting in to make their communities a better place. Teaching our teens how to have an impact in their communities is one of the pillars of our programs.