The Keystone Club Planner is designed for Keystoners to use on their own, giving them the guidelines and resources they need to make their club a success. The planner prepares teens to partner with you in running Keystone meetings, building their clubs, planning and participating in projects and the Keystone National Conference and making the most of their experience.
Using the Planner
Because Keystoners will engage in the program at different levels—some may be ready to take the lead while others may not be—it’s important for you, as advisor, to familiarize yourself with the contents of this digital tool. Review the guidelines and resources so you are fully prepared to guide Keystoners, whatever their level of engagement.
Agree to a tech policy
You can decide whether or not you want to allow Keystoners to bring tech devices (laptops, tablets or smart phones) to the Club for use in Keystone Club. Although not required—Keystoners will still be able to use Club tech equipment as usual—BGCA’s broader approach to technology recommends that:
- all Clubs have a technology plan and policy in place; and
- wherever possible, youth be allowed to bring and use technology and follow safe-use protocols.
Keep in mind that, especially for leadership programs like Keystone, teens benefit from having direct access to information they need to start and run a Club. Several resources help you with the use of technology: TECHNOLOGY GUIDE/ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY, PARENT AND KEYSTONER PERMISSION FORM and LETTER TO PARENTS.
Promote the planner
You can let Keystoners know about this new tool and how it can help them by promoting it on your Club’s social-media pages, hosting an Instagram photo contest or conducting a brief intro meeting to walk them through the planner. It’s likely that Keystoners will be eager to try it, but if not, you can provide incentives to get them started.
Your role as advisor
As Keystone advisor, your first overarching responsibility is to prepare for your role – by taking responsibility for the physical and emotional safety of all members, bringing your best self as a model for Keystoners and learning to partner with members.
Make safety a priority
As Keystone advisor, your first responsibility is for the physical and emotional safety of Keystoners. This means being aware of and adhering to these important safety guidelines:
- Make sure that you or another adult staff member is present at all times when Keystoners are meeting or working together on a project. BGCA recommends making sure there are at least two adult staff on the premises during meetings.
- Don’t use electronic devices such as cell phones or other communication devices while supervising members unless it is part of approved programming.
- Abide by BGCA’s policy prohibiting isolated, one-on-one contact, including through the use of technology. Maintain openness and transparency in interactions with teens by following the “rule of threes” to prevent isolated contact. This may include adding a parent or supervisor to texts between staff and a member or using a web application (app) for group texting that a supervisor has access to.
- Make sure that all youth participants are supervised by an adult staff member.
- Notify Club leadership immediately if there are supervision issues or incidents that might put health, safety or welfare at risk – from behavioral incidents to illness, from facility issues to weather emergencies or security concerns.
Bring your best self
Another element of creating a safe space and preparing for your work with Keystoners involves bringing your best self to your role as advisor. Consider these strategies as a starting point for increasing your self-awareness and readiness for the role. Use the BRING YOUR BEST SELF INVENTORY to get started.
- Discover your passion – Understanding your passions gives you energy in your work with youth and taking time to reflect on your passions sets the foundation for your work together. One way to begin is with the WHAT SPARKS YOUR PASSION? COMMUNITY BUILDER, which allows you to connect with Keystoners, get to know them better and become aware of your own passion at the same time. You also can review the conversation prompts on AGENDA: FIRST MEETING to consider your own responses in preparation for that meeting.
- Consider your well-being – Emotional wellness has to do with being your best self – being healthy emotionally and physically – and having positive relationships. Taking care of yourself is good modeling for youth. Not only do you build strength for facing challenges and setbacks but also you demonstrate healthy attitudes for Keystoners.
- Explore your leadership strengths – You may already be aware of your leadership strengths, but it is a good idea to think about areas in which you excel and areas in which there is room for growth. Being aware of your own leadership abilities can provide an opportunity not only to model your strengths for Keystoners but also to discuss different styles and types of leadership.
Partner with teens
As the Keystone advisor, you are always there to support Keystoners in becoming the leaders they’re meant to be. At times you will guide, mentor, coach or teach them and, at other times, you will jump right in as a partner to do the work alongside them. The partnership between you and Keystoners is what gives them the opportunity to lead while also giving them support to learn and grow. See YOUTH-ADULT PARTHERNSHIPS and AGENDA: FIRST MEETING in preparation for discussing youth-adult partnerships with Keystoners.
Another important advisor responsibility is to provide ongoing practical support for Keystoners as they take charge of managing Keystone Club’s day-to-day operations. Over time, teens will develop the ability to complete many tasks and activities on their own but, in the early stages, they need direct support and guidance.
Invite a “start-up” group
When establishing a club, begin by asking a “start-up” group of four to six teens who are considered positive role models in the club. Those with a desire to help others, learn new leadership skills and uphold Keystone’s high standards are prime candidates for membership. Because those in the initial start-up group are considered positive role models, they will have influence with their peers, which will be an asset when they try to recruit others to Keystone Club. All teens should be eligible, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, ability, academic performance or previous leadership experience.
Once you invite a core group, get together to discuss how they want to participate and to empower them to take charge of club start-up and management – beginning with recruitment and orientation.
Check in regularly
Let the team know that you’re also available on a daily basis if they need help or get stuck as they carry out club tasks and activities. Check in with Keystoners between meetings. Early in the process you may check in daily, and later, it may be only once every few days or once a week. When you do, ask reflection questions to help Keystoners think about their process:
- “What do you need to help move the process forward?”
- “What resources do you need right now to continue working toward your goal?”
- “What things have worked well and what would you like to improve?”
Monitor for inclusion
Inclusion is an important component for building a positive environment for Keystoners. This involves making the setting safe for teens of every race, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, religion or cultural belief. To monitor your club for inclusion, make sure:
- All Keystoners have access to program spaces and materials; all club spaces are accessible; equipment, materials and tools are appropriate for a wide range of abilities.
- All Keystoners are able to engage in meaningful participation; accommodations are made as necessary to support individual needs; options are created to promote meaningful participation.
- Club space and activities reflect Keystoners’ diverse backgrounds, abilities and identities; staff interactions foster support for individual differences.
Lend your expertise
While Keystoners are planning activities, projects, and events, make sure they know you’re available to help with transportation, make connections with other Boys & Girls Club staff or school officials or establish relationships with community leaders. You also can help them understand the feasibility and cost effectiveness of their plans and encourage them to think of alternatives if their ideas are not practical.
Coach teens in planning
It’s important for Keystoners to understand chartering, since they are responsible for making sure the club meets the requirements to achieve charter levels. At the beginning of the charter year:
- Work with the team to set goals and make an action plan to maintain the basic charter level or to advance to the next recognition level. See CHARTERING YOUR CLUB for details.
- Encourage Keystoners to create a written plan that includes all the elements needed to attain their target charter level – including recruitment, budgeting, fundraising and projects. Help them use these tools in their planning: YEARLY PLANNING CALENDAR, BUDGET PLANNER and FUNDRAISING GUIDELINES AND PLANNER
- Remind them that attendance at the Keystone National Conference depends on the club reaching at least silver level. See the KEYSTONE CHARTER APPLICATIONS for specific charter-level requirements.
As advisor, you’re responsible for submitting not only the charter applications but also all documentation required for charter certification so Keystoners can receive credit for the activities that help them meet requirements: the KEYSTONE NATIONAL PROJECT REPORT, the FOUR KEY FOCUS AREAS PROJECT REPORT, the #WEOWNFRIDAY REGISTRATION REPORT, and the MILLION MEMBERS MILLION HOURS OF SERVICE REPORT. You can submit these reports on BGCA.net/KeystoneCommunity (Keystone Zone).
Submit projects for awards
National Keystone awards are given at the Keystone National Conference, but Clubs must submit their projects in advance. You can submit your club’s National Keystone Project by following these steps:
- Log onto BGCA.net/KeystoneCommunity.
- Click on “Keystone Zone.”
- Click on National Keystone Awards” (on the left side of the screen).
- Click on the link, “To submit your National Project entry click here.”
- Complete all fields on the report form and click the “Submit” button.
In addition to the National Keystone awards, clubs also are eligible for awards for projects in the four key focus areas – academic success, career preparation, community service, and teen outreach – and winning clubs receive an award plaque and a monetary prize. Other awards, also given at the Keystone National Conference, are the Keystone Club of the Year award, Advisor of the Year award, and the Spirit of Keystone: Debra Williams Clark award. See AWARD CATEGORIES for more details.
There are several ways to get support for your Keystone club. You can access the Keystone Zone and Facebook online communities, contacting the advisory council for your region or getting in touch with BGCA’s national Keystone advisors. In addition, you can support your club and others by serving as an advisor to the Keystone National Conference Steering Committee.
Visit the Keystone Zone
To access Keystone Zone, visit BGCA.net/KeystoneCommunity. Use your bgca.net user name and password to log in. Once you join the Keystone Online Community, you can:
- Charter your Keystone Club.
- Download the Toolkit for the National Project.
- Find funding opportunities and contest promotions.
- Find updated information about the Keystone National Conference.
- Access discussion boards to post questions, share resources and discuss best practices.
- Download webinars for information on how to make the most of the Keystone experience.
- Access Keystone logos so you and Keystoners can create your own T-shirts, book bags or jackets.
- View online training that provides tips and tools to help strengthen your Keystone Club.
- View Keystone photo highlights of service projects, past conferences and #WeOwnFriday events.
Visit the Keystone Facebook community to share photos and highlights of your Keystone Club accomplishments and to see what other Clubs around the country are doing.
Contact the advisory council
The Keystone Regional Advisory Council is designed to support you and your club. There are five Regional Advisory Councils made up of local BGC professionals, and their role is to provide input and offer advice about the direction and implementation of the program. Members of each Regional Advisory Council are posted on Keystone Zone (BGCA.net/KeystoneCommunity), and you can reach out to them for advice or information. There is also a Regional Facebook Community. Once you get connected with a member, they can invite you to join their discussion board.
If you’re interested in volunteering to become a member of your Keystone Regional Advisory Council, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get help from BGCA
In addition to resources on Keystone Zone, you can contact the National Keystone advisors at KeystoneClubs@bgca.org. BGCA staff can assist you with the chartering process, accessing the Keystone Online Community and identifying ways to enhance the Keystone program in your club. BGCA also offers educational webinars on topics related to Keystone Clubs and serving teens. Contact the National Keystone advisors:
Serve as an advisor
If a Keystoner from your Keystone Club is selected to the Keystone National Conference Steering Committee, you must serve as an advisor at the Steering Committee meeting and at the conference. As default members of the Steering Committee, advisors also assume some of the other responsibilities, such as co-chairing various advisors’ working committees. See CONFERENCE STEERING COMMITTEE for more information.