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IN THIS ISSUE Blue canTEEN Can Do! 10 Tips to Reach More Teens Understanding Adolescent Boundaries WWW.BGCA.ORG/CONNECTIONS



SPRING 2016 PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA & FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA Honorary Chairpersons RONALD J. GIDWITZ Chairman Emeritus JACK STAHL Chairman of the Board JAMES L. CLARK President and CEO

connections vol . 36 , no. 1

KELLY GAINES Editor in Chief JOHN COLLINS Managing Editor MICHELLE M cQUISTON Associate Editor BGCA CREATIVE SERVICES Design and Layout

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Serving as a board volunteer for Boys & Girls Clubs is an honor and responsibility. You need to have a passion for the mission, influence in your community and the means to personally support the organization. Calling upon their distinct skills and networks, board volunteers come together to help Boys & Girls Clubs build on existing success and lay a foundation for greater impact on local children and teens. As the Chairman of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Board of Governors, I’m very excited about Year of the Teen and the many tremendous opportunities it presents our Movement to provide critical support to our nation’s teenagers. In addition, it is a great way to establish lines of communication to engage the support of both public and private partners. Teenagers are an important audience for many organizations. In this age of social media, teens are more than our future leaders – they are also today’s trendsetters and influencers. Community and business leaders alike want to gain access to this unique group. In view of that, seeking support to serve teens provides board volunteers with a compelling “ask” that will resonate with existing and prospective supporters alike. Serving teens also offers incentives to communities and taxpayers. Providing teens with productive ways to spend out-of-school time – including support to do well in school, lead a healthy lifestyle and be good citizens – allows our Boys & Girls Clubs to demonstrate the impact that they are making in their communities, such as reduced societal costs in areas like healthcare and unemployment. Strong boards engage in the work of their organization. In the Year of the Teen, it is incumbent upon all of us as board volunteers to leverage our contacts and resources to empower our Boys & Girls Clubs to reach and serve more of America’s teens.

Connections is published by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. It is distributed without charge to member Clubs of Boys & Girls Clubs of America as a service of their memberships. Articles or article ideas should be submitted to the Editor, Connections, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 1275 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30309. Use or return of material cannot be guaranteed and no remuneration can be made. Opinions expressed by contributing authors do not necessarily reflect policies of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Copyright ©2016 by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Job No. 2934-16 1SSN:0272-6513


BGCA Board of Governors

2 Year of the Teen Trend forecasting or trend setting?

6 What Teens Want National Youth of the Year reps on what teens seek from Clubs

8 A Formula for Teen Success NYOI report finds Club teens do better than peers nationally across priority outcome areas Page 2

16 Blue CanTEEN Can Do! Club food truck teaches teens to run a successful business




10 President’s Report BGCA President and CEO Jim Clark

12 Serving Teens 10 tips for recruiting teens

14 Child and Club Safety Page 6

A framework for understanding teen boundaries


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Photos from the 2016 National Keystone Conference, March 17-19 in Dallas, attended by over 2,000 Boys & Girls Club teens and their advisors. Yo u c a n a l s o f i n d C o n n e c t i o n s o n l i n e a t

W W W. B G C A . O R G / C O N N E C T I O N S

YEAR of the TEEN Trend Forecasting or Trend Setting?



Year of the Teen

By Adrianne Penner

“We don’t have 15 minutes of fame anymore, we have five seconds before we keep scrolling.

Teens want a voice with echo.”


ou’ve heard the question: What will our Movement look like in 2025? The answer? Well, that’s ours for the making. As we tell our Club kids, the best way to predict the future is to create it. Throughout the Movement, 2016 has been dubbed Year of the Teen. But there’s a catch. The designers, architects and masons of Year of the Teen aren’t only wearing business suits. They’re also wearing joggers, galaxy socks, torn-up boyfriend jeans and midi skirts. For an age group often defined by the trends with which they brand themselves, and in a time where trend cycles are constantly accelerating, it’s worth noting that teens are not a trend. Teens are here to stay. And this matters for Boys & Girls Clubs. Throughout our history, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s mission has focused on serving the youth who need us most. Today, that group includes teens. Yet they are the group that we serve the least. Annual Report data for 2014 indicates that Clubs served approximately 551,000 teen members. That is 175,000 fewer than just eight years earlier. Why are teens so in need of Clubs? There are many reasons. Juvenile violence that peaks during out-of-school time is one. Another is that nearly 20 percent of students don’t graduate on time – with far worse odds for most young people of color. Teens have also seen mass-shooting rates triple in the last four years. And some 4,000 young people get arrested every day, all but guaranteeing an adulthood characterized by incarceration rather than careers. But perhaps the greatest risk facing teens today is a loss of hope. Half of teens surveyed by BGCA at our 2015 National Keystone Club Conference, for example, told us they were not hopeful about the future.

Clubs Offer Hope Teens want a space that provides respite from the pressures of school, family responsibilities or the danger of the streets. A place where they can have positive interactions with peers, meet new friends and take advantage of informal relationships with adults who assist them in their areas of interest. Club staff work with teens as they learn to think critically, use their voice in healthy ways, and discover who they are and how their purpose intersects with their world. It is through this work that hope thrives. Teens want hope. Boys & Girls Clubs offer hope. As a former Club director, I know all about hope. We hope our staff doesn’t all call in sick the same day. We hope David shows up; we know he needs a hot meal after band practice. We hope Da’jah brings her permission slip to go on Friday’s field trip, she needs a night to just be 16. We hope Taylor did well on his algebra test today; we sure studied hard last night. We hope Brittney is okay, we haven’t seen her since she started high school. We pour our lives into our Club kids. We are part of their stories, and we want them to end well. The case for serving teens, then, is the same question and answer that started the conversation: Where will our Club members be in 2025? Will David’s dream of becoming a musician become reality? Will Da’jah be the teacher she wants to be? Will Taylor’s dream of being our Club’s next athletic director come true? Will Brittney be happy and healthy? Trend forecasting is much easier when we set the trends. Knowing how the story ends is much easier when we get to help shape the narrative. Working together, we can serve more teen members, more often, and keep them on track to graduate from high school with a plan for their future – a future we share, a future for which we are planning, a future we call 2025. For more information, please visit / teens


Our Club teens want a voice. Do you hear it? Year of the Teen is giving them that voice. Teen voice has become a technology that creates change in our world. “Digital Natives,” they’re called. It’s time for us to plug in. We have the opportunity to plug into a generation of young people who know hoodies as a potent political tool. Imagine, then, what a nation full of teens wearing knuckles on their backs could say. To teens, it’s not just about wearing brands, it’s about wearing a better world – our brand is their better world. The Club provides teens with positive outlets to create social change. Power and potency come from being part of something bigger than ourselves – we move from avant-garde to parody overnight; teens want shelf life. The Club connects teens to a time-tested, global Movement. We don’t have 15 minutes of fame anymore – we have five seconds before we keep scrolling. Teens want a voice with echo. Boys & Girls Clubs are positioned to build a stage for a generation of young people ready to make a difference in their communities, their nation and their world. We are positioned

Teens Want a Voice I asked Club teens what Year of the Teen means to them. Here’s what some had to say:

to mix the cement for a generation of masons laying the road to our future. Positioned to guide this road to a great future – to determine how this story ends. What will our Movement look like in 2025? Again, trend forecasting is much easier when we’re setting the trends. Historically, our Movement has achieved greatness in all pursuits we have rallied around. Whether opening our doors to girls or bringing Clubs to Native lands, there is nothing we haven’t accomplished when our movement has come together. Teen membership and impact is our next collective pursuit. In 2016, thousands of new teen Club members will learn that they have a voice, learn how to use it and take the stage. And we’ll be listening. So, in an age where teen voices are not televised but tweeted, I give you my 2025 forecast in 140 characters: Voice & hope of those who need us most create #GreatFutures at the Club, with 6-year-old faces and 18-year-old faces, they are here to stay. Adrianne Penner is BGCA’s Director, Teen Impact and National Keystone Advisor.

“Year of the Teen is about learning we have voices and how to use them.” - Briana G., Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County, Indiana

“Year of the Teen means it’s our time. We’re here. We matter.” - Miguel P., Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County, Colorado

“It’s a catalyst for conversations on things affecting our community and how we can make a difference, how we can shape our future.” - Shawna H., Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, D.C.

“Clubs are making sure teens have a seat at the table.” - Jordan T., Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County, New Jersey



Year of the Teen

A safe, secure space teens can connect with cool content … or create it.

Teens want content that’s relevant to their lives. In fact, they want to create that content. The MCML Teen Reporter program trains Club teens to generate content for, by and about teens. Participants learn to:

Write about what they care about Tell stories with video and still cameras Work with professional reporters to



become better


for, by and about teens.

All Teenage Boys & Girls Club members are eligible to be a MCML Teen Reporter. Learn more:

Go to

Click on Teen Programs

Select Teen Reporter TEENS Your One•Stop Source for To enable all Clubs to grow teen membership and increase their impact, BGCA has created a host of tips, tools and resources, including: 2016 Event & Training Calendar Dynamic Teen Space Checklist Teen Strategy Worksheet Sample Teen and Tween Program Schedules Teen Services Online Community 25 Teen Outreach Ideas

Plus, new resources added the first Tuesday of every month! Only at! For more information, please visit / teens




Whitney Stewart 2015-16 National Youth of the Year

Emily Carvajal Courtney Patterson Southwest Youth of the Year

Alora Allen

Midwest Youth of the Year

To find out what today’s teens want from Boys & Girls Clubs, Connections spoke with four of our six 2015-16 National Youth of the Year finalists. On the following pages, National Youth of the Year Whitney Stewart, Northeast Youth of the Year Brooke Grand, National Military Youth of the Year RianSimone Harris and Southwest Youth of the Year Courtney Patterson share their insights into teenagers and how Clubs might be better positioned to engage more teens. To learn more about all of the National Youth of the Year finalists and the Youth of the Year program, please visit



Year of the Teen

Pacific Youth of the Year

Brooke Grand Northeast Youth of the Year

RianSimone Harris National Military Youth of the Year

How would you make the Club more interesting to more teens? WHITNEY: Taking college tours, job shadowing, service projects, and Keystone activities make the Club more interesting. Stepping outside their communities and seeing what the world has to offer has the potential to alter the trajectory of their lives. It’s also imperative we prepare teens for steps they will take after high school by providing SAT/ACT prep for collegebound members and vocational training for those who prefer to learn a trade. Finally, I think it is important for teens to take an active role in their Club by allowing them to assume advisory positions. BROOKE: I would host a “Teen Night” every Saturday so more teens could see what the Club has to offer. Teen Nights could go from 7 to 11 p.m. and allow teens to dance and participate in other activities. It would get teens off the streets on weekends and encourage attendees to become members.

COURTNEY: If you offered teens college readiness, life skill prep, and career exploration programs, I feel they would stay Club members longer because they’d have a reason to. RIANSIMONE: There is nothing better than having people who believe in you more than you believe in yourself. Club advisors care about your future and make an effort to guide you to success. I had many advisors and each one made a difference, no matter how big or small.

Why do you think more teens don’t attend the Club? COURTNEY: Many teens stop going because they feel they’re too old. I had the same feeling entering high school. I started to feel worn out by the same routine, but I found a purpose and decided to continue my membership. There are three stages to being a Club member. The first stage is demographically centered on the 6-12 age range, our youth group. The second is the 13-17 age group, our teens. And the third stage is those 18 and older, Club alumni. At each stage, you have to offer different opportunities. We have to remind teens why they’re here. If we can reiterate their purpose, they will stay. BROOKE: I think the top reasons are after-school sports or having a job. Once teens reach high school, if they aren’t playing a sport, parents usually encourage them to get a job. RIANSIMONE: It’s sad to think that there are many teens who do not attend the Club. I would not be who I am today if it was not for my Boys & Girls Club. If teens knew the amazing things they could gain from the Club, there is no way they could resist it. You can come to the Club, bring all your struggles and hardships, and find new friends to open up to.

What makes the Club different or better from other places teens could choose to spend their time? WHITNEY: The Club provides a space for teens to be loved and accepted for who they are, without judgement about challenges they may have. Teens are mentored by caring adults to realize their potential, discover their passions and pursue them with vigor. COURTNEY: There isn’t another place that offers as many academic activities, enrichment programs and social development opportunities. The Club has so many facets you can’t get anywhere else. And who doesn’t love help with your homework and a good snack? RIANSIMONE: Clubs allow you to follow your passions; passions you didn’t even know you had. My love for music and art grew tremendously in the Club. BROOKE: The Club is a place that provides a safe environment and allows teens to spend time together. Instead of sitting around watching TV at home, the Club provides kids with numerous activities to participate in with their friends. At the Club, teens can get involved in sports, shoot pool with friends or get homework help.

Why do you think teens should attend the Club? WHITNEY: Teens who attend the Club defy expectations assigned to them and have the potential to drastically improve their communities and society. RIANSIMONE: Spectacular programs. When people think of programs, they think of classes and more school. But no no no! The programs offered by the Club are so much fun! They allow you to learn and get involved with your community while having a blast. They are definitely preparing you for a successful future. BROOKE: I think teens should attend the Club because it is a life-changing experience. Attending the Club was extremely beneficial for me. It saved my life and I believe it can and will save many more lives. I suggest to kids across America, if you can get involved in the Club, do it now and don’t pass up this amazing opportunity.

For more information, please visit / teens


columns Serving Teens


Adolescent Club members tend do better than their peers nationally across Boys & Girls Clubs’ priority outcome areas, especially when Clubs keep younger and older teens engaged by providing an optimal Club Experience. This and other National Youth Outcomes Initiative (NYOI) findings are published in Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s report, “Measuring the Impact of Boys & Girls Clubs.” The report, based on data from the 2015 NYOI Club member survey, focuses on regularly attending members – those who attended the Club on average once per week or more in the past six to 12 months.

AN OPTIMAL CLUB EXPERIENCE IS CRUCIAL Since 2014, BGCA has partnered with Hanover Research to study what it takes to create an optimal Club Experience, one in which members feel safe, both physically and emotionally; have fun; receive support and recognition from caring adults who set expectations for them; and have a sense of belonging. The research shows that an optimal Club Experience plus high member engagement leads to more positive outcomes in youth. Among regularly attending teens: • Older teens (16 and older) are 18 percent more likely to expect to attend college when they experience an optimal level of physical safety. • Younger teens (13 to 15) are 19 percent more likely to have volunteered in the community when they have optimal levels of adult support. • Older teens are 48 percent less likely to have consumed alcohol in the past month when they have an optimal level of fun. • Younger teens are 32 percent less likely to engage in physical fights when they experience an optimal level of physical safety. 8 CONNECTIONS


Serving Teens

A look at how Club teens are doing in priority outcome areas, especially in comparison with their peers nationally, reveals that Clubs have a measureable beneficial impact.

GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE GRADUATES Graduating from high school matters greatly. High school dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, be arrested or incarcerated, and use public assistance subsidies and the public health system than high school graduates. Although the overall national graduation rate is at a historic high of 82 percent, some groups continue to lag behind. While 87 percent of white teens graduate on time, only 73 percent of black teens and 76 percent of Latino teens do so. Teens from low-income families graduate at a rate nearly eight percentage points lower than the overall rate. To gauge how members are faring academically, BGCA measures the extent to which they are on track to achieve on-time high school graduation. Because the middle-school years are a critical time in young people’s educational trajectory, and the transitions to sixth and ninth grades are challenging, the on-track indicator focuses on Club members in fifth through 12th grades. Among Club members who attend at least once per week, 78 percent are on track for on-time high school graduation. Of these, about 20 percent exhibit warning signs (such as occasionally skipping school or mediocre grades) that put them at some risk for not graduating on time. Once students enter ninth grade, research shows that earning good grades, passing courses and accumulating sufficient credits are all important for on-time high school graduation. A comparison of NYOI and National Survey on Drug Use and Health data suggests that low-income, regularly attending Club members ages 12 to 17 outperform their peers nationally on school grades. About three-quarters of these Club members report earning mostly As and Bs in school, compared with 67 percent of youth nationally.

Among Low-Income Youth Ages 12 to 17

Club Members

Youth Nationally

D’s & F’s

Mostly C’s

Mostly A’s & B’s







Serving Teens

21ST CENTURY LEADERS Clubs work to foster young people’s good character, their ability to make positive life choices and their willingness to serve others. Teens who volunteer are less likely to become pregnant or use drugs, and are more likely to have positive academic, psychological and occupational well-being. Adolescents who are involved in community service or civic activities are more likely as adults to have a strong work ethic, volunteer and vote.


A comparison of data from NYOI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey suggests that teens who stay connected to the Club as they get older seem better able to resist high-risk behaviors than teens nationally at the same ages. To illustrate: • 89 percent of Club ninth graders report abstaining from drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, compared with 76 percent of ninth graders nationally. • By 12th grade, 83 percent of Club seniors and 53 percent of seniors nationally report doing so.

A comparison of NYOI and Monitoring the Future survey data shows that teens who attend the Club regularly volunteer more than teens nationally, with older Club teens being even more likely to serve.

NYOI data shows that members who stay involved in a great Club throughout their teen years reap many benefits that help them fulfill their potential.

• 42 percent of regularly attending Club eighth graders report volunteering at least once a month; by contrast, just 37 percent of eighth graders nationally report doing so.

To explore more positive 2015 NYOI findings for Club members, download “Measuring the Impact of Boys & Girls Clubs” from

• 66 percent of Club 12th graders volunteer at least once per month, compared with only 29 percent of 12th graders nationally.

Irma Velasco-Nuñez is Director of Knowledge Management for BGCA.

Older Club Members Are Even More Likely to Serve 12th Grade 10th Grade 8th Grade

29% 34% 37%

66% 54% 42% Teen Club Members

Teens Nationally

A HEALTHIER GENERATION More than one-third of all U.S. young people are overweight or obese. National guidelines recommend that youth participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 60 minutes per day. Yet, most studies of physical activity among youth show that they fall short of this recommendation, with girls more likely to fall short than boys. A comparison of NYOI and National Center for Health Statistics data, however, suggests that female members ages 12 to 15 who attend the Club regularly do better than their peers in the same age group nationally. • 30 percent of Club girls are physically active every day, compared with 23 percent of girls nationally. • Club girls’ rate of daily physical activity actually exceeds that of boys nationally. To d o w n l o a d t h e c o m p l e t e r e p o r t , p l e a s e v i s i t

BGCA .net / NYOI


columns President’s Report


hroughout our history, Boys & Girls Clubs have focused on serving all young people, especially those who need us most. This enduring commitment has served us well for over 150 years. Today, our Movement’s attention adds focus to a group of young people in crisis – America’s teenagers.

JIM CLARK PRESIDENT and CEO Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Across the country, too many teens lack the direction and longterm goals that they need to chart a path for a great future. Nor are there enough mentors and role models – caring adults to inspire teens to reach beyond their grasp for academic and professional success, to live healthy, and to give back to their communities. But instead of teens who aspire to move onward and upward, too many end up mired in mediocrity or worse… often with outcomes detrimental to a successful future: • 1 in 5 teens does not graduate on time • 4,000 youth are arrested daily • Juvenile crime peaks from 3-7 p.m. These difficult truths tell us that teens need Clubs as much as, if not more than, any population today. That is why Boys & Girls Clubs of America has declared 2016 the Year of the Teen.

WHAT IS YEAR OF THE TEEN? Year of the Teen is the launch of a three-year national strategy to cultivate Club membership and engagement among teenagers in the communities we serve. Year of the Teen is essential to propel our Movement forward for teens, building focus and energy to drive our teen agenda. It consists of five key priorities: 1. Capacity – Strengthen the teen experience at the Club. 2. Programs – Ensure program offerings are relevant to teens. 3. Partnerships – Increase access points for teens, making it easy for them to engage. 4. Outreach – Reach more teens, more often. 5. Marketing and Advocacy – Increase brand relevance and awareness among teens.

Kicking off our multi-year national strategy to reach more teens, more often



President’s Report

Despite the great need, teens are the age group that Clubs serve the least. Since 2007, teen membership has steadily declined Movement-wide. Clubs lost a collective 175,000 teenage members from 2007 to 2014. That’s a huge number of teens who did not benefit from the Club Experience. To reverse this trend and increase our impact on teens, we need to start by recruiting more teens. Our goals include having

President’s Report

574,000 teens as Club members by the end of this year. Our longer-term goal is to reach 640,000 teen members by 2018. Incremental growth is crucial to the Year of the Teen strategy. We believe we can build momentum as we commit to serving teens and share learning about what works. To get to 640,000 calls for 4 percent growth this year, followed by increases of 5 percent in 2017 and 6 percent in 2018.

IF NOT US, WHO? Our history, knowledge and proven record of success are unparalleled. No youth-serving group can match our scope and reach. BGCA provides national programs in our three key outcome areas – Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles – to Clubs in cities, towns, public housing communities and on Native lands throughout the country, and to military-connected youth at BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. Clearly, we are better positioned than any organization to support and impact teens. But there also has to be unified commitment to serve teens. Without that, we cannot fully realize our mission to serve all youth. Nor will we achieve our vision of every Club member being on track to graduate from high school on time, career-, military- or college-ready. As a Movement, we need to be more intentional and focused on how we reach and ultimately serve more teens. Of course, serving any group of youth effectively necessitates that Clubs apply certain criteria. Two benchmarks, in particular, need to be part of our DNA in everything we do for kids. One is increasing average daily attendance, which is the gateway to successful outcomes. The key to opening that gateway and realizing those outcomes is to provide every member with an optimal Club Experience. As demonstrated by the latest National Youth Outcomes Initiative data, there is a powerful correlation between teens who have an optimal Club Experience and increased positive outcomes. (Please turn to page 8 for more details on the 2015 NYOI.)


To get it done, we need to take a step back and take a hard look at how we now serve teens. Making sure every Club has the capacity to deliver a strong teen experience, including appropriate staffing, dedicated teens space and programs that are relevant to teens. Here is what I am asking every Club to do: • Assess your teen program – Is it relevant to teens? Is your brand compelling to them? • Develop and implement a teen strategy – Create a plan that fits the unique needs of your Club and community. • Maintain momentum – Make teens a regular agenda item at every staff and board meeting. BGCA will help support these efforts with new teen-focused resources, learning opportunities and programs. Teens will be a prominent topic at all conferences, including this year’s three teen-focused Youth Development Conferences. Resources to build Club capacity to serve teens can be found at, with new materials added every month. Your BGCA Teen Team is always here to lend a hand. You can contact Teresa Walch, BGCA National Vice President, Program, Training and Youth Development Services, at Of course, feel free to touch base with me, too, and let me know how your strategies are working, at For too long, we’ve allowed teens to leave Clubs in alarming numbers. Through Year of the Teen, we have an opportunity to recommit ourselves to retain, reach and serve more teens. Because it’s time that Clubs stop losing teens … and start winning them back.

A MOVEMENT-WIDE EFFORT Year of the Teen can be the fuel that propels us forward to reach and serve more of America’s teens. At the local level, it’s an opportunity to enhance community partnerships and, most importantly, your Club’s relevance in the community. It’s also a compelling motivator for local boards, which Jack Stahl speaks to in this issue’s Chairman’s Message on the inside cover.

For more information, please visit


inning Keystone Club.

bers of Ridgefield’s award-w

Kristin, center, with two mem

By Kristin Gonca lves

working ago, I realized I had a passion for rs yea ht eig r ove b Clu my in t always be Upon stepping foo Girls Clubs offer, Keystone will & ys Bo m gra pro ry eve e lov I leaders with teens. While ies it provides to teens and the nit rtu po op the nd tha firs n see n the my favorite. I have bs can do for teens. We have see Clu s ng thi ng azi am the n see all teens as it creates. We have nals, we want to reach as many sio fes pro nt me op vel de th you Club save lives. As ny lives as we can. possible and try to impact as ma I’ve collected through my years ces cti pra st be are ing low fol How can we do that? The ns. ve are appropriate for most tee working with teens, which I belie 12 CONNECTIONS


Year of the Teen


Listen to Your Teens – Teens are the greatest resource you have. Many of you are already running a successful Keystone Club, a program for teens, by teens. Your outreach events can be run in a similar way. Listen to what your teens have to say. They have great ideas and will be very excited to have their opinions heard.


Create a Teen Outreach Committee – Invite your program staff and teen Club members to serve on the committee. Teens involved in the planning process will naturally take ownership of teen outreach events and the recruiting process, which will help make these events successful. The Club is an important place in their lives, and they will want to share that with their friends.

3 4 5

It’s Okay to Start Small – The key to growing your outreach events over time is to keep events consistent. For example, start out by running one event a month on the first Friday night as part of #WeOwnFriday. Once teens get to know the schedule, attendance will progressively increase.

Make an Organization-wide Investment in Teens – Achieving the Movement-wide goal to serve 640,000 more teens by 2018 means that everyone – from board members to youth development staff – has a vital role to play. Encourage your CEO to work with the board to create a Teen Recruitment Policy for your organization. Set yearly goals that you can commit to achieving together. Once everyone is behind the “big picture” of serving more teens, more often, you will be able to achieve more success enrolling teens.

Don’t Feel You Always Need to Create Something New – If something works, stick with it. If you have a great turnout at karaoke night, why not run it again the following month?


Create a Sense of Belonging – It’s what makes Boys & Girls Clubs the special place that it is. By creating a “second home” environment for your teens, they will have a sense of ownership. If our teens don’t feel vested, they won’t invest their time or energy back into the Club. Encourage your staff members to take time to build supportive relationships with teens. A simple, “How was your day?” often goes a long way.


Reach Out to Colleagues at Other Clubs – Remember, we are all in this together. Meeting with your professional peers allows you to learn from each other, share successes and failures, ask questions and even share frustrations. In addition, be sure to check out the great resources Boys & Girls Clubs of America offers on


Don’t Be Afraid to Fail – Not every event is going to be huge success. Just like we tell our Club kids, it’s okay to fail and make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Part of being successful is taking those failures, reflecting on them and making changes to move forward.


Celebrate Successes, Even Small Ones – Set small recruitment goals for you and your staff, and celebrate when you reach them. Recruiting 100 new teens to join the Club isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s most likely going to be a slow and steady process. Challenge your staff (and teens) to meet their recruitment goals and have a great time celebrating when they do.


Remember: It’s About Teens – At the end of a long day, long night or even a long week, don’t lose sight of the reason behind the long hours: teenagers. Whether five or 500 teens show up at your event, you made a difference!

Kristin Goncalves is Director of Operations for the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield, Connecticut, and the 2015 National Keystone Advisor of the Year. In 2015, her Club received the BGCA Honor Award for Best Overall Program.

For more information, please visit / teens





By Mitru Ciarlante

Adolescence is a period of great change. In the United States, it is considered the stage between puberty and adulthood – approximately ages 10 to 17. This transition from child to adult involves tremendous physical, emotional, cognitive and social changes. Teens begin to move from concrete to abstract thinking and face other common developmental tasks. p

Child & Club Safety

Child & Club Safety

The architecture of the teenage brain is also shifting, as foundational structures for adulthood are built. The experiences teens have during these years shape the structures of their brains around behavior and thought. Once this form is set, it is difficult to rearrange. If that weren’t enough, puberty also entails numerous boundaryrelated developmental challenges, including: • Adjustment to physical changes • Acceptance of sexual feelings • Understanding personal boundaries, roles and relationships • Knowledge of reproductive processes • Experiences with degrees of intimacy • Integration of socially acceptable standards of self-expression

THE AGE OF SELF-DISCOVERY Exploring who they are becoming is the main challenge for teens. It’s not unusual for them, therefore, to try out different aspects of self-expression and evaluate feedback from peers and role models. This is part of discovering who they are, who they are becoming, and how they act in relation to others. Teens are developing identity – a set of thoughts, feelings and attitudes related to values they will use throughout their lives to make decisions about behavior and boundaries. That is why prosocial experiences (a desire to help others with no expectation of reward) are so important to development, and negative experiences so detrimental – like a wrecking ball slamming into a structure under construction. Teens are navigating a widening social circle, including relationships at home, school, work and in the community. New environments and people provide new experiences that help them discover the need for emotional, physical and social boundaries. You can think of boundaries as a line where one person’s personal space ends and another person’s begins. Boundaries prevent people from being hurt. We protect places that feel most vulnerable, and develop emotional and physical intimacy by allowing someone we trust into vulnerable space. The support of safe, caring Club mentors can help teens through these changes by modeling appropriate behaviors for them, setting clear expectations and boundaries for behavior, and using positive reinforcement, while redirecting inappropriate interpersonal behaviors by, or directed at, a youth.

EXPECTATIONS AND BOUNDARIES Supporting teens in developing and upholding personal boundaries is important. Like much youth development work,


boundary work starts with adults who are self-aware and demonstrate good interpersonal boundaries with co-workers, parents and members. Research by Boys & Girls Clubs of America shows that when Club staff work well together and with parents, members enjoy a better Club Experience and generally better outcomes. It’s especially important to be vigilant about appropriate adult-youth boundaries, thereby ensuring you do no harm or allow others to exploit youth. A critical factor affecting boundaries is a difference in power between individuals. A person who holds a more powerful position (e.g., supervisor-employee, adult-youth) is responsible for setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries to protect the more vulnerable person – as well as themselves. Boundary work does not often follow a clear straight line. It can frequently zig and zag as teens figure out what feels right to them and develop the strength to say what they want. Boundaries can also seem fluid, as people’s emotions and feelings change from day to day. Teens need adults to be patient and empathetic, providing them with a safety net to explore and make mistakes (within limits) without seriously damaging themselves or others. Clubs can help teens by providing and upholding clear conduct guidelines for members, parents, staff and volunteers. Teens and parents have a right to know Club policy regarding appropriate contact between staff and Club members, and should be encouraged to immediately report any concerns to leadership.

BUILDING BETTER BOUNDARIES It takes guts to tell someone “no,” to establish one’s limits. According to BGCA’s National Youth Outcomes Initiative, one indicator of Club safety is how likely youth feel an adult is to protect them if someone wanted to hurt them. Club mentors can guide youth to think about their personal values and boundaries, and teach them it is their right to have their limits respected. Youth also need adults to protect them by respecting their boundaries and ensuring other youth and adults do the same. When a teen states their boundaries or respects those of another, verbally acknowledge and praise them. Redirect youth behavior that does not respect the limits of others and discuss why it is important to do so. Boundaries help define us as individuals, separate us from others and guide our connections. The teen years are a window of opportunity in which we can help youth develop their boundaries as part of a strong, solid foundation that will serve them well throughout their lives. Mitru Ciarlante is Director for BGCA’s Child & Club Safety Department.

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BGCA .net / ChildSafet y



Club food truck combines art, marketing and culinary arts to teach teens business basics By Tiffany Heck “A recipe has no soul. You must bring soul to the recipe.” With that observation, it is clear that Wesline Loute, an eightyear member of the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County in Florida and a high school senior, has made the most of her involvement in the Club’s Culinary Arts program and, in particular, the Blue CanTEEN Food Truck. After two years of research by the Club’s Culinary Director Geoff Novins and Assistant Culinary Director Taso Banos, the organization’s Board of Directors formalized a plan to launch Blue CanTEEN as a component of the Jr. Staff job-readiness program. With funding of $134,000, a food truck was designed, ordered and procured. After test runs at the Club and some community locations, Blue CanTEEN began full service last November, offering the city of Naples and surrounding communities a menu to pique the hunger of any serious foodie and a mission just as appetizing. Holding to a key Boys & Girls Club tenet, Club teens were instrumental in designing and implementing the program and continue to be critical players on the Blue CanTEEN team. From naming the truck in a white-board brainstorming session, to menu design, food prep, marketing and business planning, the truck’s success is directly attributable to their involvement.

Health and Life Skills Programmatically, Blue CanTEEN is emblematic of the successes achievable through Boys & Girls Clubs’ fundamental emphasis on Health & Life Skills. An emphasis on fresh and

local cuisine is evident in the fare offered. As a nod to the Club’s Southwest Florida home, the menu leans heavily on seafood with a slightly tropical flare. Partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and nearby Lipman Family Farms ensure access to top-quality ingredients. Novins works closely with participants to impart the ins and outs of commercial food production and the culinary arts, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Blue CanTEEN aspires to elevate our commitment to job readiness by introducing participants to the realities of conceiving, planning and executing a business concept. Teens are directly tied to the program’s success, and see the impact of their actions, efforts and ideas in real-time. To meet demand, much of the prep work is done when participating teens arrive after school. In addition to preparing the more than 600 dinners served to Club members each day, the teens do all the prep work for any Blue CanTEEN evening obligations, as well as for the next day’s lunch service.

A Self-Sustaining Enterprise Of equal value operationally and educationally, Blue CanTEEN is designed to be fully self-sustaining. With the truck out and about in the community nearly every day of the week, revenue from food sales contributes to the truck’s ongoing maintenance and program overhead. In a true celebration of Year of the Teen, the Blue CanTEEN Food Truck delivers on objectives to increase capacity, programs, partnerships and outreach.

“In a true celebration of Year of the Teen, the Blue CanTEEN Food Truck delivers on objectives to increase capacity, programs, partnerships and outreach.”



Year of the Teen

In addition to material benefits teens derive from their food truck involvement, Club leadership is gratified to see how much the youth genuinely enjoy their tasks and the pride they feel in the results achieved. Wesline, who hopes to attend the Culinary Institute of America, is a shining representative of the Blue CanTEEN’s potential, but she is not alone. Much as a recipe in isolation is no more than words, a food truck without the passion and commitment of Club staff and members is nothing more than a food truck. Along with fish tacos and veggie wraps, Chef Novins, Wesline and everyone involved in the Blue CanTEEN are delivering plenty of soul and serving up a solid foundation for many more great futures. Tiffany Heck is Vice President of Resource Development for the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County.

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Connections Spring 2016  
Connections Spring 2016