“It’s really cool being on the other side, learning how everything works,” Bernard says. “You can learn a lot from kids.”
Bernard was one of three 17-year-olds who combined their energy and positivity to inspire younger teens at the Boys and Girls Club of Dawson Community Centre this summer.
Bernard, Mahleek and Vincent are all long-time members of a Boys and Girls Club, going back to when they were 5 or 6.
The trio worked as Counselors in Training, developing their leadership, team building and mentorship skills, thanks to the Dawson Club’s Keystone program.
Generously sponsored by Capital One Canada, Keystone is a leadership program of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (BGCC) for youth between the ages of 14 and 18. Keystone was first introduced by BGCC back in the 1950s and is founded on the principles of cooperation and teamwork. Capital One has been the proud title sponsor since 2010.
Bernard, Mahleek and Vincent personified these Keystones principles, mentoring the 13- to 16-year-olds who participated in Dawson’s summer leadership L.E.A.D. camp.
“The 13- and 14-year-olds were pretty shy,” says Bernard, who is known as the go-to guy for jokes at the Club. “I kept telling them, ‘Express yourself!’
“Every day, we were all just laughing. It was so much fun.”
“My best experience all summer was working with Bernard and Mahleek,” Vincent adds.
Mahleek agrees. “This summer, I learned the true meaning of the expression, teamwork makes the dream work.”
As Counsellors in Training, the trio of older teens mentored the younger teens, who in turn paid it forward by facilitating games for the 5- to 12-year-olds at the Club this summer.
Keystone youth plan their own activities and volunteer initiatives, based on their interests and the needs of their community. Youth learn how to foster respect between groups and individuals and make positive choices, developing confidence and self-esteem in the process.
Although the summer camp is over, Bernard and Vincent intend to stay in touch through the Teen Program at the Dawson Club. Mahleek recently moved with his family to Toronto and is already making new friends at a Boys and Girls Club there.
“The best thing about the Club is the vibe, the aura. It’s so positive,” Vincent says.