Being involved with the Boys & Girls Club Movement for many years, I’ve met countless outstanding Club professionals and board members. Nothing represents their collective impact on America’s youth quite like BGCA’s annual National Conference, the 107th of which took place last week in Orlando.
Conference attendees stream into the ballroom for another exciting session.
Conference is a lot of things. For one, it’s a learning experience; a chance to glean insights from experts in youth development and related fields, and apply them back home. It’s also an opportunity to recognize outstanding Club staff for contributions to their profession. But more than anything, the conference is proof positive that Clubs help kids succeed.
All week long, we saw how the Club brings out the best in young people. From talented youth performers who dazzled audiences, to inspiring Youth of the Year winners whose stories of obstacles overcome held thousands in rapt attention.
We saw the proof in our newest Alumni Hall of Famers: an astronaut, a Congressman, a best-selling singer, a paralympic athlete, a baseball legend, a pro bowler, an hotelier and a career military officer. While their ages and achievements were diverse, their memories of the Club and its impact on their lives were remarkably alike – fresh as if they’d just happened.
Yes, our National Conference means many things to many people. To me, it offers proof that Boys & Girls Clubs change and save young lives – and a reminder of why we do what we do.