Summer to offer a weekly dose of ‘something new’

Published 9:26 am Thursday, April 10, 2014

Photo by Brandon Hicks

Mason Barnett and Jayven Maney get in some computer lab time at the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County. The club has scheduled a busy season of events for youngsters who register for its summer program.

This summer will be one of learning, fun and exploration for some local youngsters.
And bowling.
And camping.
Maybe some fossils.
And swimming. Definitely swimming.
Those are some of the things planned for kids ages 5 to 18 who join the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County’s summer program.
The program begins May 27, will run until Aug. 1 and carries an overall theme of “Be Great.”
During those 10 weeks, Boys & Girls Club Director Ginny Wright said the youth will go on “just for fun” field trips, as well as field trips that are enrichment activities. Back at the Boys & Girls Club facility, the children can take part in art programs, technology lab activities, different sports clinics and other programs.
“Each week, it will be something new,” Wright said. “The field trips and activities will go along with each week’s theme.”
Some of the trips include naturalist programs at Roan Mountain State Park – which will coincide with a camping trip to the park; a trip to Hands On! Museum; a visit to Appalachian Caverns; stopping by the Natural History Museum and Gray Fossil Site; and taking in exhibits at the art museum in Abingdon.
“Just for fun” trips include visits to the Franklin Pool and the Kingsport aquatics center, bowling, skating and other activities.
For teens, Wright said weekly visits to local college campuses are planned. They will travel to East Tennessee State University, King University, Carson-Newman College, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Tusculum College and Milligan College.
“It is never too early for them to start thinking about that and planning for their future,” Wright said.
The club will also pilot the Summer Brain Gain program, which combines fun activities with learning experiences.
“Research shows that kids not involved in learning projects lose two months of knowledge every summer,” Wright said. “We are not school. We are not trying to be school. We are going to offer them fun activities that have them use their brain.”
The program will also partner with the Summer Food Service Project to provide the children with breakfast, lunch and a snack.
The summer program may overlap with the last days of school for students in the Carter County system. Wright said if that was the case, the students would be picked up or dropped off as normal for the after-school program, and would then move into the summer program when classes were over.
There are no set deadlines to register for the summer program, but Wright encourages applications to be submitted by May 9. She said parent orientation is scheduled for May 13 and 15, where parents would get the activity schedule and other information.
This is the Wright’s first summer as director of the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County, and said she is unsure what kind of interest there will be from the community for the summer program.
“I have no clue how many people to expect,” she said. “We welcome all who want to come.”
She said staffing needs would be reviewed as registration was completed. She said she planned to keep a 20:1 child-to-staff ratio.
The summer program is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Children can be dropped off or picked up at any time during the set hours.
The cost for the summer program is a $20 registration fee and $35 a week for the program.
“It can be paid on a week-by-week basis,” Wright said. “I know some families go on vacation and will be away for a week. They won’t have to pay for a week they aren’t going to use.”
The club has a financial aid program for families who cannot afford the program’s cost.
“We don’t turn anyone away based on their ability to pay,” Wright said.

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