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Let teens be your teachers

Daniel Vigneron, Kiwanis International President | Jan 20, 2020

My work with Kiwanis allows me the good fortune to travel all over the world. Meeting new people and taking in new experiences are very enjoyable to me. Early on in my Kiwanis presidency, I had the opportunity to get involved with a special group in Kansas in the middle of the U.S.

I joined a weekend Key Leader event at Rock Springs Ranch in Junction City. The Kansas District takes great pride in this ranch. The district helped to raise US$250,000 over five years to remodel the Heritage Hall center on the campus. It now has modern facilities and technology for campers, along with the natural beauty of the wooded camp’s lake and many outdoor activities.

Key Leader camps are weekend retreats for teens, a time to put their phones and school aside and get out of their comfort zone. They work in groups to learn about teamwork and leadership skills. It’s also a time for personal growth. During this time, students discover more about themselves as individuals and how to act and respond in different situations.

I talked to the group about what it was like for me as a boy growing up in Africa and my time as a Boy Scout. It was nothing like the opportunities youth have today! This generation is much more sophisticated. They seem to more easily mix with people who have different personalities and come from different backgrounds.

Key Leader offers activities to teach young people how to be community-minded, listen well, take action and be persuasive in the most positive ways. I was impressed by the level of respect shown not only to me, but to the teenagers’ advisors and chaperones. And the respect was mutual.

It is always energizing to spend time with enthusiastic, bright young people. Watching these teens interact and learn in such a short period of time motivates me to encourage my Kiwanis colleagues to take a greater role in mentoring members of Key Club and CKI. They have much they can teach us about sharing new ideas, and resiliency when things don’t go as planned. This kind of thinking can invigorate our members and elevate our clubs and districts.

Daniel Vigneron is the 2019-20 Kiwanis International president. He is from Howald, Luxembourg.

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