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History of a National Movement

Character development has been the cornerstone of the Boys & Girls Club experience since the first Club opened in 1860. The first Club professional, John Collins, devised a system of informal guidance to attract boys into the Club, capture their interest, improve their behavior and increase their personal expectations and goals. The procedures Collins used constituted a clearly planned, socially scientific system of taking boys off the street and promoting their development towards a successful, productive future. This system formed the basis of the Boys & Girls Club environment. It is still in use today with proven results. Boys & Girls Clubs of America believes that character development, the basic building block in personal development, should be an integral aspect of every Club program and activity. In 1906, several Boys Clubs decided to affiliate. The Federated Boys Clubs in Boston was formed with 53 member organizations – this marked the start of a nationwide Movement and our national organization. In 1931, the Boys Club Federation of America became Boys Clubs of America. In 1956, Boys Clubs of America celebrated its 50th anniversary and received a U.S. Congressional Charter. In celebration of this event, Aaron Fahringer, a regional director for the west coast in the 1950s, scripted the Boys & Girls Club Code. The code was adopted as official by the National Council in 1955, and was used extensively in the 50s and 60s. The Code is still displayed in many Clubs today. The Boys & Girls Club Code I believe in God and the right to worship according to my own faith and religion. I believe in America and the American way of life…in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I believe in fair play, honesty and sportsmanship. I believe in my Boys & Girls Club, which stands for these things. In 1990, to recognize the fact that girls are a part of our cause, the national organization's name was changed to Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 1990. Accordingly, Congress amended and renewed our charter. In 2006, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America marked their 100th Anniversary of providing hope and opportunity to young people across the country.