WETZEL KASERNE, Germany — Wetzel Keystone Club members demonstrated outstanding leadership and character during several community-enhancing events throughout the year, earning them the Legacy Keystone Charter, which is the top level in Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Keystone Clubs are BGCA programs that are found all over the world, focusing on teen academic success, career preparation and community service, said Ryan Flynn, Wetzel Teen Program assistant director and Keystone Club adviser for the Baumholder Military Community.
“Keystone is a premier leadership club for youth 14 to 18,” Flynn explained. “At Wetzel Teen Center, we have about 280 teens enrolled, and we get anywhere between 90 and 120 stopping by the center per day. Between sports and after school activities, kids today are pulled in so many directions. So, I’m happy to get as many members as we can to participate.”
The Keystone Club program, founded in 1964, was designed to produce and sustain high standards of character and citizenship in youth to help them develop and become responsible, productive adults in today’s world. With the support and guidance of club staff, they are provided opportunities to make leadership decisions, be involved in intellectual and career experiences, while serving others.
“From my perspective, to be a leader is to effect positive change,” Flynn said. “What I try to do with this club is get teens out there doing positive things within our community, whether it’s small acts like cleaning up areas of the installation or helping raise donations for wounded warriors, it gives them ways to become leaders by providing assistance within our community.”
To get to the top level, Wetzel Keystone Club members completed a series of charters throughout the years — silver, gold and finally the Legacy Keystone Charter, Flynn said.
“To achieve the legacy level, your club has to achieve the gold level two years in a row,” he said. “So they really had to put in some time and effort to make it all happen. It was a labor of love for us to get through two years of gold to get to the legacy level, and I’m very proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
Club advisors also take members to local colleges and universities for College Night and assist them with college applications and scholarships, Flynn said. All the community service and volunteer work performed throughout the year is helpful when applying for higher education entrance as well.
For Timur K., being the Keystone Club president is both challenging and rewarding. “Planning and organizing events can be difficult, since you are required to meet certain charters,” the 16-year-old said. “But there are usually more than enough people who volunteer to help out, so it makes the events go smoothly. We did a small community service event Monday, where we cleaned the skate park. We had several Keystone members and other volunteers helping to make sure it is a safe and clean environment for people to enjoy.”
Future volunteer events include working with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation for a Halloween event and sponsoring a barbecue for the military police, Timur said.
“It’s a great opportunity. Not only does it help with getting necessary volunteer hours for high school and college, it also helps build character,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling to be out there in the community and be a part of things that are bigger than yourself and your group of friends. It helps with your leadership skills, which is something colleges look for, but most of all — it’s fun.”
Tiara M., a Keystone Club member for more than a year, is following her brother’s footsteps.
“My brother was the president last year,” said the 17-year-old. “He would tell me all about Keystone and the events they were doing, so I wanted to try it.”
Her brother Hunter, a freshman at the University of Dubuque, became a stronger, more social person because of the club, and it has helped her as well, Tiara said.
“I’m not a very social person, but when I joined, I met a lot of great people. So, if you want to get out and make new friends, this is definitely the place,” she said. “There’s no judgement here. We all get to voice our opinions and not get criticized. I enjoy this club, and it makes me feel great to be a part of it.”
Fellow Keystone member, Zeth J. was “interested in helping the community and getting volunteer hours toward college,” he said. “I had a friend that wanted me to join, so he told me all about it and the activities. The program helped me to become more vocal and participate in community events.”
Out of all the club projects he’s worked on over the past two years, Zeth said he liked barbecuing food and playing a few games of basketball with 50-60 military police officers.
“I thought that was a great idea because of everything that was happening with the police in the States,” the 16-year-old said. “We got to build positive relationships with the military police by grilling and playing basketball together. It was a really great time.”
To find out more about the Wetzel Teen Center and its programs, call 485-6810 or 6323 or at 06783-6-6810 or 6323.