Keetje Straub, Youth Director for the Rassieur Youth Center, recommended John Caniban, age 16, as Teen Council Representative to attend the Navy Teen Council for the betterment of Navy Child and Youth Programs worldwide and to attend the Boys and Girls Club Keystone Conference, a teen community service-based program in Texas. John spent a week this March representing NAS Pax River. The following is an article written by John, describing his experience:
The Boys and Girls Clubs Keystone Conference was an experience like no other. Going into this trip, I was filled with uncertainty. I was worried if I would make friends or if I would have a good time. But, minutes after I arrived in Dallas/Fort Worth, my fears melted. I met Taylor, Geoff, Bailey and Katlynn. It was very awkward at first, but we started talking like best friends soon after. It only got better when I met Deontae, Ambreana, Raymond, Aaron, and finally Decoyus. Being able to make friends with families like mine and who understood the hardships and quirks of being military made me feel good. It was reassuring to find friends who could connect to me in many ways. I truly thank God for being able to meet them. The hotel and city were gorgeous, too.
The Joint Forces Meeting prior to Keystone taught me a lot about what to do as a military teen. The speakers drilled the values of being a military teen as the voice for our individual bases.
One of the values that all the teens held high was communication. Yet communication won't matter if we don't engage ourselves to complete the task at hand. I took away that I need to actively help shape my teen activity on my base by engaging myself and passing my drive to others. It all starts with a single step. As Layman Hicks later said, "You have to Get up, Go Out, and Go Get it!" this really drove me to try and make an impact when I got back.
The Keystone Conference was amazing! We started each conference day with something like a concert and inspiring talk. We saw many stunning performers, such as David G., who did "Music Inspired by Art" and painted Bruno Mars in five minutes; speakers like Layman, who drove their talk with personal experience. Those stories held so much power that I am sure that it impacted many people.
The sessions enforced many more ideals, such as trust. Trust comes easy from people who seem similar to us, but that is an illusion. Every human being is "similar" to each other!
Each conference day ended with another concert and talk. Then we would break for dinner with a dance floor and game room featuring arcade and video games, mechanical bulls, laser tag, and inflatable structures. We Navy teens enjoyed it fully. I even got hit square in the face in boxing and stayed on the mechanical bull for twenty-five seconds! All 2000 teens and our advisors finished the conference with a trip to Six Flags. I can't describe how much fun we all had, or the impact Keystone made on my life.
The people I met and things I learned all impacted me and drive me to make an impact on my base.