PROTECT: Good Character & Citizenship in Action

Trip to Apple Holler – October 10, 2017

Having a wonderful time at Apple Holler!

If you didn’t know better, it would have been easy to mistake our youth for the original Wisconsin pioneers as they made their way around Apple Holler. Mining for gemstones, taking on roles in a play about treachery and heroism in an 1800s small town, and living off the land as they traversed Apple Holler’s many acres in search of the perfect apple, our children might as well have gone back in time.

While they played the part well, in actuality, our youth took full advantage of this incredible opportunity provided for by the Allstate Foundation. From mining, to making angels in a corn box, to witnessing the beauty that Apple Holler has to offer, this was an eye-opening trip for our youth. The children were enthralled by the goats and the horses that they got to see, elated each time they found a new gemstone to take home and eager to enter into the apple farm and take home their very own apples. Some so eager that the apples were done by the time we got onto the bus. All in all, our youth reveled in the chance to experience parts of life with which they don’t normally engage, learning the history of this area while also recognizing all of the tiny wonders that exist in the present. By the end of the trip, the world felt a little bigger, and a little more full for our youth.

These lessons are vital for our children to develop strong character and citizenship skills. Part of being a strong leader, and a strong member of society is the ability to empathize with people from all walks of life, and from all different backgrounds. While the trip was certainly a blast for the kids, events like heading to Apple Holler help to open the eyes of our youth to the world around them. By taking part in activities like this trip, our children will be that much more eager to develop the strong character traits that we hold at the core of our mission at Boys & Girls Club of Lake County.


“Let’s clean up the beach!” fifth grader Yahaira said when staff asked them what sort of service projects they would be interested in completing this year as part of Torch Club at Boys & Girls Club of Lake County. Other youth chimed in with approval and thus began a semester long discussion of the definition of conservation. Torch Club is a “Club within the Club”, helping to meet the special character development needs of younger adolescents at a critical stage in their life. Members elect officers and work together to implement projects in one of the four focus areas: service to Club and community, education, health and fitness and social recreation.

For this particular service project, made possible by the Allstate Foundation, youth spent time preparing with preliminary projects like coordinating a recycling drive to benefit children at Anne & Robert H. Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL. Their semester of projects culminated in a partnership with the City of Waukegan, to hold a beach clean-up day and on Monday, May 22nd, 2017, twelve Torch Club youth and two Club staff went to the Waukegan Municipal Beach where they met a representative from the City of Waukegan. In one hour of combing through the sand, they collected four large bags of trash!

The lessons learned through participation in Torch Club are instrumental in developing good character & citizenship. One of the reasons Torch Club is so impactful is because it is youth-led. Selecting the service project themselves develops within the youth a sense of pride. Seeing their ideas come to fruition is a truly exceptional experience for them, and that experience would not be possible without the Torch Club Program here at the Club.

Good Character & Citizenship

It is the goal of the Club to support all Club members as they learn responsibility, respect, accountability and listening skills while developing leadership skills. To ensure all of our youth exemplify good character & citizenship the Club implements the following programming:

Torch Club 

Torch Clubs are chartered, small-group leadership and service clubs for boys and girls ages 11 to 13. A Torch Club is a powerful vehicle through which Club staff can help meet the special character development needs of younger adolescents at a critical stage in their life. Torch Club members learn to elect officers and work together to implement activities in four areas: service to Club and community, education, health and fitness and social recreation.

Keystone Club

Keystone Club is Boys & Girls Club Movement’s ultimate teen program. This unique leadership development experience provides opportunities for young people ages 14 to 18. Youth participate, both in and out of the Club, in activities in three focus areas: academic success, career preparation and community service. With the guidance of an adult advisor, Keystone Clubs aim to have a positive impact on members, the Club and community.

Youth of the Month

Each month, Boys & Girls Club of Lake County staff votes on a Youth of the Month for each Club site. This award is given to club members who tangibly demonstrate good character through his/her caring, honesty, fairness, sense of responsibility and respect for themselves and others.

Youth of the Year

The National Youth of the Year program is designed to promote and recognize service to Club and community, academic performance and contributions to family and spiritual life. The competition begins with each Club selecting a Youth of the Year who receives a certificate and medallion, then enters the state competition. State winners receive a plaque and a $1000 scholarship, then enter the regional competition. Each of the five regional winners receives a $10,000 scholarship and enters the national competition held in Washington, DC. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $15,000 scholarship, totaling $26,000 in scholarships and is installed by the President of the United States.

Anne Thompson Scholarship

A local scholarship for Boys & Girls Club of Lake County members who have invested two or more years into the Club. Scholarships of $1000 or more are provided to celebrate Club members’ service to Club, community, family, academic performance, moral character, life goals, as well as poise and public speaking ability. Please contact the BGCLC Administrative Office  for specific guidelines.