What we do



What we do:

Three key program areas


What we do every day helps improve the lives of children. All Club activities support youth development in at least one of three key program areas:

  • Academic success to help youth achieve academic goals, stay in school, explore career interests, learn new skills and consider post-secondary education options. Sample programs.
  • Healthy lifestyles to help youth engage in positive behaviors that nurture well-being, set personal goals and grow into self-sufficient adults, including daily physical activity, healthy food choices and an appreciation for the outdoors. Sample programs.
  • Character and leadership to empower youth to become engaged in the Club and the community, sustain meaningful relationships, respect one another and participate in the democratic process. Sample programs.

Academic success


  • Project Learn engages Club members in tutoring, homework help, service projects and fun learning activities.
  • Power Hour, ages 6-18, time set aside for working on homework, every day after school.
  • Tutoring, ages 6-18, trained tutors work with Club members in specific subject areas.
  • Bemidji Area Reading Canines ages 6-12, read aloud to a specially trained dog to help youth build confidence in their reading skills.
  • Technology Lab, ages 6-18, builds digital literacy by teaching kids how to use basic software and be safe online.
  • Diplomas to Degrees, ages 14-18, provides a range of services to guide Club members as they work toward high school graduation and prepare for post-secondary education and career success.
  • Money Matters, ages 13-18, builds basic personal money management skills, including budgeting, saving and investing.
  • National Fine Arts, ages 6-18, encourages artistic expression through drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, collage, mixed media and sculpture.

Healthy lifestyles


  • Triple Play activities promote a healthy mind, body and soul.
  • Healthy Habits, ages 6-18, incorporates healthy living and active learning in every part of the Club experience with an emphasis on good nutrition, regular physical activity and improving overall well-being.
  • Club greenhouse, ages 6-18, on-site greenhouse engages youth in gardening, including cultivation and harvesting, planning healthful meals and snacks and selling fresh produce to area businesses and the Bemidji School District.
  • I can camp, ages 12-18, provides an overnight camping experience at Bemidji State Park. Teaches youth how to set up camp, build a campfire and cook simple meals.
  • Laketrails, ages 13-18, introduces up to 15 teen Club members to the wilderness with an eight-day canoeing adventure on Lake of the Woods.
  • Goals for Growth, ages 8-12, builds skills needed to set and achieve goals and maintain motivation.
  • SMART Moves, ages 8-17, helps youth resist the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and avoid premature sexual activity.
  • Leadership Club, ages 12-18, engages Club members in leadership within the Club. Participants assist Club staff in the gym, game room and kitchen and volunteer within the Club and the community.

Good character and citizenship


  • Torch Club, ages 11-13, a small-group leadership and service club that focuses on service to Club and community, education, health and fitness and social recreation. Clubs can compete nationally for service awards.
  • Keystone Club, ages 14-18, provides teens an opportunity to gain leadership and service experience as they conduct activities in three areas: academic success, career exploration and community service.
  • Youth of the Year, ages 14-18, to recognize a teen Club member who exemplifies excellence in service to the Club, commitment to community and family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals and public speaking.
  • Youth for Unity, ages 6-18, promotes and celebrates diversity while combating prejudice, bigotry and discrimination. Youth of all ages learn to appreciate themselves as unique and special individuals, understand diversity in society, recognize bias and unfairness and take personal leadership confronting bias.
  • Year of Service Initiative, ages 6-18, focuses on a variety of events that provide opportunities for youth to engage as volunteers in the community or at the Club.

Youth of the Year


girlstudying playing guitar

Every year, we recognize one outstanding teen Club member, age 14-18, as our Youth of the Year. Recipients are selected based on six criteria:

  • service to the Club;
  • commitment to community and family;
  • academic success;
  • strong moral character;
  • life goals;
  • public speaking

Youth of the Year, established in 1947, is the Boys & Girls Club of America’s premier recognition program for Club members. Striving to achieve the award helps youth build character, community engagement and leadership. Each month, we recognize one Youth of the Month and annually select our Club’s Youth of the Year, who then competes at the state level.

Our local winner receives a $1,000 scholarship and then competes in St. Paul with other candidates throughout the state. The competition includes a three-minute presentation followed by one-on-one interviews with local and state judges. The state winner receives a $5,000-$15,000 scholarship and the opportunity to compete for the Midwest Region Youth of the Year. Five winners each receive a $10,000 scholarship and advance to the national level in Washington, D.C.

The National Youth of the Year receives up to an additional $50,000 in scholarships and is installed by the President of the United States.

Past winners:

2018 — Allie Shimkus

2017 – Rhea Holleman
2016 – Nathaniel Esley McDonald
2015 – Felicity Boney
2014 – Michael Horton
2013 – Darrin Hill
2012 – Aaron Hulsebus
2011 – Summer Johnson
2010 – Ivan Smith


Who we are


Learn more about what we do, our mission, history and membership profile at Who we are. Then meet our staff and board.