Keystone Club molds future leaders of America

  • Published
  • By Jamie Haig
  • 16th SOW Public Affairs
Some Hurlburt Field teens do more than just watch television and play video games.

They volunteer to help at special base events, hold movie nights, pool parties and go on weekend trips. But most of all, they have fun.

The Keystone Club is the reason these teens are so active. Located in the teen center, the club meets at 7:30 p.m. every Friday night.

“The teens elect officials, run the club and plan different activities,” said Drake Sobania, 16, Keystone Club president. “This is a year round program.”

The Keystone Club was started at Hurlburt Field in 1998 and is an Air Force-wide sponsored program. Designed for youth between 13-18 years old, it was organized to offer teenagers constructive things to do.

Set up as a leadership development program, it teaches problem-solving skills and offers a variety of opportunities for teenagers to grow.

Keystone Club members are active in the community, helping with the Airman’s Night Out African-American Heritage Night, Family Fest and Eglin Gate-to-Gate Run.

“At the next meeting, we’ll discuss our end-of-school-year party,” said Drake. “And make plans for our summer field trip and our fundraiser at the Sound of Independence.”

The club also has guest speakers to help educate the youth.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office is sending a deputy to speak about summer do’s and don’ts and JobsPlus will talk about setting up a resume and how to apply for jobs and go through the interview process.

The club also encourages military high school teens to join the Youth Employment Skills program.

Through YES, students bank four dollars in grant funding for every hour they work. Students can work up to 250 hours over the course of high school, for a total of $1,000 to use towards further education.

“It also helps the teen center out too,” said Tina VandenBerg, teen center coordinator. “The base is credited with two dollars for every four dollars earned by the youth. This money is used to purchase items for the teen center or supplement field trips.”
Drake has already completed his 250 hours and has $1,000 ‘banked’ towards his tuition costs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed his hours in one year’s time.

Drake isn’t just the Keystone Club president – he’s also the Hurlburt Field Youth of the Year.

This is Drake’s first year as Keystone Club president, but he’s hoping to be re-elected next year.

The club’s also recruiting for more participants in events such as putt-putt golf, a trip to a local water park and the club’s summer trip.

“The club is a great place to hang out and get involved with the community,” said Drake.
For more information, call 884-1411.