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  • Writer's pictureBGC Metro Baltimore

Why Every Teen Needs Boys & Girls Clubs to Grow Personally and Professionally

Impact By The Numbers: Teens interested in becoming Club members listen to Cambridge Club Manager Gabe Butler welcomes each of them to The Movement during its Teen Open House event.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore (BGCMB) understands the hill of challenges awaiting our teen members outside of the Club doors during this time of their lives. The images most teens encounter in-person and on-screen often alter how many may view themselves in relation to their peers, celebrities and others. The effects can sometimes result in negative choices directed inwardly. It’s a critical time both mentally and physically that’s made more formative by the disruptive elements awaiting many of them in school hallways and greeting them on the streets on their way home under twilit skies.

Recent Boys & Girls Clubs of America research concluded that ‘more than a third of kids (37%) report being bullied on school property and 18% report being bullied electronically’ during the previous year. The latter half of that same line of research found that youth are ‘16% less likely to tell an adult when they are electronically bullied versus in-person’. The remaining 84% silently living in fear of the threats made are just as important. Being there to help a teen member address the dilemmas they’re facing is why every BGCMB staff member is here to listen. No youth should have to walk the road of life alone with no caring mentors in place to help guide them over the often hard-to-navigate terrain leading into young adulthood.

Sketches By The Artist: Club member Darnell charts out his aspirations as a designer afterschool by hand.

“There’s a feeling that you’re welcomed when you come into the Boys & Girls Club," Darnell says about the vibe felt once he steps inside The Blue Doors. “When I was at other afterschool programs, there would be activities for us to do to keep us busy—but nothing like what I’ve learned and done here with the staff here. They really make you feel seen. They create an environment where they listen to our concerns and what we want to do for fun and a living.” This is best seen in the collaborative projects he and other teen Club members participate in alongside staff to show off their growing talents. “I want to be a lead graphic designer for Disney or Nickelodeon and Mr. Gabe and the rest of the staff let me be one of the leads who are designing our logo for The Club to welcome the new teens who want to join.”

Programming For Every Teen Every Day of The Year: Our Clubs in Cambridge, Pocomoke and O'Donnell Heights are opened doors to teens looking for a fun, educational time where learning, fitness and mentoring conversation is always happening.

A teen’s exploration of self and the world around them is what makes these years intriguing and intimidating. We see this as a chance to allow our members to venture out of their comfort zones and into new spaces through BGCMB’s teen-focused programming. Knowing how to gain steady footing in new surroundings is the hallmark of growth. BGCMB promotes individualism through a series of inclusive, educational and community-building activities structured to allow every teen to be able to fine tune and display their skills in the classroom and in life. Walking the path of a teenager is tough, tougher without the proper resources needed to help diversify their life experiences during such an impressionable age linked to their personal development and the beginning of their higher academic and professional careers.

Making Inroads Towards A Great Future: Madison gained the awesome experience of meeting Boys & Girls Clubs of America CEO, Jim Clark, meeting new Club members from her region in Maryland and from all over the country as well as visiting our nation's capital for the very first time.

“I want to become a pastry chef, I love making cupcakes and brownies,” Madison says regarding her dream career. “Here--at The Club—we're always discussing what skills we need to prepare us for that moment when we apply for a job, start our own business or go on to college. We recently took a survey that helped us see what job lines up with our interests and to see what other careers are out there, too.” Madison represented BGCMB at the 2023 Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Day of Advocacy in Washington, D.C. earlier this month where she instantly began cultivating her burgeoning networking skills. “I was kind of nervous at first because I had never been to Washington and about meeting all these new people. Once I met the other Club members from Pocomoke High School, I started to relax and had a great time getting to know everyone and seeing all the sights when I was there.”

According to a LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report, its data affirmed that ‘92% of hiring managers said soft skills are equally or more important than technical skills’ when it comes to bringing the right candidate onto their staff. The report also presented that ‘nearly 9-in-10 [hiring managers] said when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s typically because they lack critical soft skills’ for the position. Preparing our teen members with all the transferable attributes and helpful pointers on how to better themselves for a great post-graduation life—no matter the career—is the goal of every BGCMB staff member. They know many lists of varying responsibilities life can steadily hand them without warning. Though we view having our members ready for the workforce as a success, being able to assist them with understanding the results of the choices each makes produces a smarter, more aware adult ready for the world is a complete victory. This process takes time and Club Managers like Gabe Butler in Cambridge are here for every second of each journey.

Drawing Inspiration: Club member Gabe, who seeks to be become a graphic designer, spends his time perfecting his artform during Teen Night.

“Being able to help provide the necessary guidance for our youth here in Cambridge helps them to gain the knowledge they need for the road ahead in life,” Gabe says about the opportunity he and his staff have to mentor our teens professionally and to help build their character even more. “It’s a responsibility we all take seriously here on the Eastern Shore and the other staff of youth development professionals at our Clubs. We’re always searching for new ways to give our teen the best experiences are what helps every community we serve--and that's why I love being a part of The Movement.”

Preparing our teens for the professional chapters of their lives is what we take pride in, but Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore understands that developing their character is the foundation that transforms Club members into leaders. Our annual teen competition—Youth of The Year—is the best example of how The Movement continues to raise and strengthen the expectations of our young leaders in the making for over 75 years. Giving all teens a chance to exhibit service to their communities, scholarship in the classroom and the affable traits that make them unique candidates to possibly become ambassadors for National Youth of The Year. Rewarding those teens who avidly look to make a difference in the world with resume-changing, network-creating opportunities bolsters a confidence in aspirational youth that can only be experienced here at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore.

Want to see what other great opportunities BGCMB is giving our teen members? Click here to find out what we're doing to keep enriching opportunities like these happening for all our Club members and their communities. Click here to find out how you can add to the impact shaping the lives of our youth all year long.

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