What is Key Leader?

Key Leader is a weekend program focusing on encouraging high school students to explore what it means to be a servant leader. The Key Leader program is built on five essential principles. These principles reflect our mission to inspire young people to achieve their personal best through service leadership:

  • Personal Integrity: Doing the right thing
  • Personal Growth: Developing in mind, body, and spirit
  • Respect: Showing consideration for self, others, and property
  • Building Community: Developing relationships to achieve positive goals
  • Pursuit of Excellence: Expecting and achieving the best

Please take time to read our Key Leader stories, and feel free to submit an article sharing your own words of wisdom or success story related to these principles. The articles you find here are written by participants of the program, both students and adults. You can submit articles yourself or by contacting the District Coordinator using the "Contacts" link to the left. 

Growth on the First Night

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.

Key Leader is Excellent

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.

Community Can Accomplish Great Things

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. 

Be S.M.A.R.T.

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. 


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?