Grenville Baker and the BGCA National Conference – May 9, 2018
This past week, members of our staff and Board of Directors travelled to San Diego, CA to attend the National Conference for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. More than 2,500 of BGCA’s best and brightest attended, from influential board members to professional Club executives and their U.S. Military counterparts who operate youth centers on bases around the globe. All the attendees were eager to learn about the latest strategies and techniques in the youth development field. It was wonderful and inspiring to have the opportunity to meet other BGCA professionals and to exchange ideas with them.
Born out of necessity 118 years ago, the BGCA Movement stands for what is best about our country: our willingness to care for those less fortunate than ourselves. In 1860, the burgeoning Industrial Revolution had transformed many towns and cities in the northeast. With so many workers putting in long hours at factories and mills, little provision was made to care for their children. The citizens of the city of Hartford, Connecticut took notice of the number of children left without necessary food, shelter and supervision.
Civic minded individuals joined together to form a Club, choosing a venue and providing a range of activities for young boys. Over the years, Boys’ Clubs have been formed throughout our country, Native lands, and military installations, and have come to include girls as well. These Clubs have evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of our children and our communities. In good times and bad, the Clubs have strengthened our country, providing a place for young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
At the conference, our Club staff and board members attended programs in their areas of interest. The theme of the conference was “Great Futures for 2025: Our Call to Action for America’s Youth” and the chairman was SONY’s President and COO Michael Fasulo. We also enjoyed seeing this year’s Hall of Fame inductees. This year’s class included sister and brother basketball stars Michelle and Matt Bonner (BGC Central New Hampshire), NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Davis (BGC of Greater San Diego), recording artist Jason Derulo (BGC of Broward County, FL), professional wrestler Hulk Hogan (BGC of Tampa Bay), and 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist Shaun White (BGC of Carlsbad, CA).
One particularly memorable moment at the Conference was when the National Youth of the Year, Carlos P. spoke about his Club in Clifton, NJ and what it meant to him. He will be attending the Dartmouth College this fall and he described how being a Club kid helped him to succeed. The Club’s dedicated staff made him feel important and valued. What an impressive young man!