04/15/09 — Keystoners enjoy national conference

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Keystoners enjoy national conference

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 15, 2009 1:46 PM

Chavayae Hall of Dudley realized a dream few believed would happen when she and seven other teens traveled out of state to a national club conference earlier this month.

Miss Hall, who is the president of the local Boys & Girls Club Keystone Club, said she and her fellow Keystoners are still reeling the whirlwind weekend with the National Keystone Conference in Atlanta.

"It was all I envisioned and more," she said. "We experienced a lot of new stuff. We attended workshops about how to deal with things like peer pressure, domestic violence and racism... Now, I just want to see how far we can go after this big trip and see where we can go to take it to the next stage."

Although eight attended, all 15 members of the Keystone Club worked hard for the past year to raise the $5,000 cost to go on the trip, said Teen Center Director Willemina Williams.

"I thought it couldn't be done. And if it wasn't for the Keystone Club members' hard work and determination, it could not have happened for the eight," she said.

The teens worked diligently all through 2008, raising money for the trip by doing things like manning concession stands, winning money in contests and serving pancakes. After all, that is what club members learn to do when they join Keystone Clubs. Keystone teaches free enterprise as well as character development, leadership skills and a love for community service.

Mrs. Williams said the most determined one in the bunch was Miss Hall.

That is because Miss Hall returned from her first Keystone Club conference, which was regional, fired up about going to nationals.

In 2007, she attended a regional conference in Charlotte with two other Keystoners and came back wanting to go to nationals.

But by the time they got back, the club didn't have time to raise enough money for members to attend the 2008 national conference. That conference was held at Garden Grove, Calif., and several of the teens didn't like the idea of flying. And they learned any conference -- no matter how near or far -- would cost a lot of money.

"But she didn't let it go," Mrs. Williams said about her tenacious teen. "If it hadn't been for her, I'd have let it go. I knew what it would cost, and I knew the work that would be involved."

But Miss Hall had caught the bug.

"We liked getting to meet the different people and traveling to see things we had never seen before," Miss Hall said.

And Mrs. Williams likes being able to take as many Keystoners to club conferences as possible.

In October, she hopes to take a different group of Keystoners to Richmond Va. for a regional conference.

There are several Keystoners who wanted to go this time but could not, she said. And she is looking forward to taking them on a trip, too.

"I never dreamed I'd be able to take eight teens to a national conference. That's big for me," she said. "I knew it would cost a lot. I thought we would be lucky to take one or two kids. But I saw how much it meant to them. Chavayae pushed it, but they all wanted to go."