• If you don’t set SMART goals, or think outside of the box, or for that matter challenge yourself to be a better person, will you achieve excellence?  Just think of all the great ideas, technological advances, and even such things as the iPhone or iPad that revolutionized how we do things.  Whether they were developed by one person, or by an entire group of people, in order to make them a reality, it took a lot of work, testing, and even more development after becoming a popular means of communicating. 

  • The longest continuously-operating Easter Seals camp in the nation, Easter Seals Wisconsin Camp Wawbeek began providing services to children and adults with physical disabilities in 1938. By striving to keep pace with the changing needs of our campers and community, Camp Wawbeek continues to evolve and thrive.

    Camp Wawbeek has a registered nurse living on-site and one counselor for every two-three campers. Provided they are able to succeed in a small group setting, all campers with physical or mild cognitive disabilities or those who need behavior support can attend Camp Wawbeek. Counselors are trained to meet the individual needs of each camper whether that’s assisting with personal care or providing emotional and social support as campers make new friends and try new activities. Parents and caregivers can take comfort in knowing that their loved ones’ needs are being met, allowing them the opportunity to relax and reconnect with family and friends.

    There is always something to do at Camp Wawbeek. When campers aren’t boating, fishing, hiking or swimming, they’re playing basketball, painting, racing through obstacle courses, exploring attractions in Wisconsin Dells, or flying through the air on a zipline! Everything is fully accessible and campers are encouraged to challenge themselves with new experiences and set goals for new accomplishments.

    For campers of all ages, there is also time to relax, make new friends and reminisce with old ones. Evenings bring campfires, dances, special events and each day ends with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

    Camp Wawbeek serves children and adults age seven and up. During the summer, six and twelve-day Youth and Teen sessions are available as well as six-day Adult, Young Adult, and Transition sessions. Sessions are also available various weekends from September through May.


  • Key Leader is a weekend when students learn to step out of their comfort zone.  There have been many attendees over the years that have shown up the first day reserved and unsure how to interact with their peers.  Over the course of the next couple of days, those same students step up to lead a group activity, volunteer to be first on the low ropes course, and are ready to jump in with an answer to a discussion topic. 

  • Each year we hold Key Leader at Camp Wawbeek in Wisconsin Dells.  If you have some time, walk around the camp you’ll notice signs or plaques near various buildings, the pool, walkways, and even the zip line out in the woods.  Many generous individuals or groups helped to collect funds in order for these structures or areas to become a reality. 

  • Key Leader!  What can they teach me about leadership or, more importantly, what can I learn about leadership?

    The first time I walked onto Key Leader I had just experienced my greatest struggles as a leader. Let me explain with a little background information.   

    I had been in charge of a Day Camp where I had spent two previous summers working.  I had 5 staff and around 20 campers who were counting on my leadership ability.  Looking back, I realize the hubris in my thinking at 20 years old, assuming I had nothing more to learn about leadership. Over the course of that summer

  • My favorite part of the Key Leader Experience is the first night when you get to know your fellow campers.  Once you have your nametag, you place 4 objects about you on your nametag, find a partner, and discuss what you wrote.  Getting to hear their experience and then sharing your experiences.  Part of being a leader is being vulnerable.  One of the best ways to do that is to be transparent and to let others in.  Leading is not always taking charge, it is letting others voice their opinions to you and taking that to a larger level.

  • When it comes to personal integrity, a couple questions you should ask are whether something is right and if it is ethical?  This applies to various circumstances that happen in everyday life, whether that is shopping at store, completing a task at work, or even spending time with friends.  One of the many situations that are presented during Key Leader involves a high school student, who is on the football team, attending a party where alcohol is involved. 

  • Kiwanis International welcomes the U.S. Army as a Vision Partner. At Key Leader workshops, soldiers serve as teamwork session facilitators and offer U.S. Army’s March 2 Success. March 2 Success offers free online SAT/ACT practice tests and flashcards, standardized test preparation with eLearning curriculum, high school preparation, and resources for understanding college admissions and financing. Visit for more information.


  • Way back in 2003, a Kiwanis International committee formed to explore the possibilities of starting a Key Leader program worldwide.  Stan Soderstrom, the current Kiwanis International Executive, and Jane Erickson, International Vice-President, served on the committee.  April, 2004, Stan introduced Key Leader to the Governors' Council in Indianapolis.  At that time, Stan chaired the Sponsored Youth Programs.  He announced that Sponsored Youth would become Service Leadership Programs and include Key Leader.  The class of 2003-2004 District Governors totally endorsed Kiwanis International's recommendations

    Later that April, the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District board approved having Key Leader within our District.  September, 2005, we held the first weekend at Camp Wawbeek.  10 years, still going strong and looking forward to celebrating a 20-year anniversary.

  • I have been a camp administrator for over 40 years and have been through a number of student leadership sessions over the years. I find the Key Leader program is the best I have seen. I like that the lead facilitator is an out of state person that has been highly trained and is a good motivator.  This helps keep them focused on the value of the experience.  It has a defined program content but each leader can get there in their own way. They are very much professionals and not just someone who volunteered out of the crowd.

  • When it comes to respect, you can follow the lyrics from Aretha Frankin’s song by the same name, listen to your mom when she says to “respect your elders”, or maybe that teacher who taught you to respect the opinions of others.  Either way, respect can be a huge stepping stone to how you interact with your friends, family, or co-workers.  Will you be able to accomplish a task at work without the help of others?  Can you pull off organizing the next family reunion without some insightful thoughts from your grandfather or aunt? 

  • My initial thought of Key Leader throughout my 4 years of Key Club and my 5 years of Circle K, was why do I need to go to camp and became a leader? My feelings were, I'm already a leader. I have had over 4 club leadership positions, 2 district leadership positions throughout Wisconsin Upper Michigan Kiwanis Family, and an international position with Circle K International. There was no question in my eyes, that I was not a leader. I then glanced at the quote that I had at the bottom of my signature page of my email

  • The students have large and small-group activities, with a combination of lectures, discussion, interactive activities and audio-visual presentations. Every weekend will offer a lot of fun with new friends through various team building exercises such as these:

    -Low Ropes Course 

    -Neighborhood Groups

    -Neighborhood Chants

    -Diagrams and Charts

    -Various Activities


  • Kiwanis International describes Key Leader as a weekend experiential leadership program for students from 14-20 years of age. This life-changing event focuses on service leadership as the most meaningful leadership-development experience. A Key Leader will learn the most important lesson of leadership—it comes from helping others succeed.



    Participants attend large and small group workshops, discussions, and team-building activities throughout the course of the weekend. Students have opportunities to learn leadership skills that will help them to change their schools, communities, and world for the better. While exploring leadership in a whole new way, participants will make amazing new friends and have experiences they will never forget. Positive, ongoing interaction with other Key Leader graduates offers continuing reinforcement, encouragement and growth of leadership skills.

    Since April 2005, Key Leader has served more than 21,000 students at 450 Key Leader events in 39 U.S. States, 5 Canadian provinces, Malaysia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, El Salvador and Singapore.