Boys and Girls Club Finishes First Year
August 5th, 2015
The Boys and Girls Club has nearly come full circle to the inaugural year on the plateau. After successfully completing a nine month after school program for students from Blue Ridge School and Summit Charter, the Club charged right into a seven week summer camp named “Ridge Runners.”
Ridge Runners, a colloquial term for hikers or mountaineers, was the theme for the summer; campers from the Club hiked around in Panthertown Valley, Whiteside Mountain, Cullowhee Falls, Glenn Falls, and one group even completed the beautiful 6.8 mile stretch of the Chattooga River Trail. “We wanted to make sure to take advantage of the incredible outdoor recreation opportunities. Young people get so much out of spending time together outdoors,” stated Program Manager Holly Tolles.
The camp boasted a specialized theme for each week with activities structured around those themes. During “Under the Sea” week, campers became experts on various sea creatures from the reefs and oceans around the world. Along with area hikes and mountaineering opportunities, campers were engaged in many educational and group learning games and lessons, team sports, and collaborative thinking games such as the “If You Build It,” where campers are given common household materials such as toothpicks and marshmallows and tasked with creating masterpieces.
The Boys and Girls Club camp hosted local naturalist Rose Wall and her birds of prey and small mammals and reptiles from the Balsam Mountain Trust and also Trapper Rob, a local favorite known for his Wolf Tales program where he teaches groups to appreciate the animals and their important role in an ecosystem. BGCP also teamed up with the Albert Carlton Library for several events including Professor Whizz Pop and Snakes Alive. Campers in the 1st through 3rd grades participated in the Summer Reading Program offered by the library.
SNAG Golf was a highly popular activity offered twice weekly; Mr. Lou Miller, President of the Old Edwards Club and his team of talented young coaches ran the “Starting New At Golf” program and campers of all ages participated. “Our kids learn rules, fundamentals of the sport, strategic thinking, gain an outdoor hobby, and develop a valuable business and networking tool all in a single activity,” Executive Director Josh Helms commented on the program.
All elementary school campers participated in Summer Brain Gain, a Boys and Girls Club of America program developed to prevent summer learning loss. Brain Gain modules are designed to be fun and engaging; to tie into the “We Are the World” theme for the last week of camp, the Brain Gain module “Life on the International Space Station” was integrated. Boys and Girls Club campers responded with enthusiasm to the program. Jayden Bryant, a rising 4th grader from Blue Ridge School expressed interest in becoming an astronaut after some of the models; “It was fun learning about the things they eat and how they brush their teeth” in space.
The Middle School group participated in many of the same Club activities, but they were also engaged in specialized programming to target soft skill building; heavy emphasis on teambuilding and communication played a part in the Middle School Camp along with goal setting and confidence. To develop these skills, BGCP partnered the Brevard Rock Gym for a multi-day rock climbing program. “I knew if I tried hard enough, I could do it” rising 6th grader of Summit Sierra Wade exclaimed after completing a difficult bouldering challenge. Climbing was a favorite activity among the group.
After a busy summer, the Club will open for the 2015-2016 after school program on Monday, August 24th. Registration is underway for current members and opens to the public on Thursday, August 6th.