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Boys and Girls Club recruiting more teens

Club celebrates national week of recognition

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Nick Ellison, 9, of Williamstown, laughs during a card game at the Washington County Boys and Girls Club Monday.

Though the summer programs are already wait-listed, the Washington County Boys and Girls Club is still hoping to recruit more middle school students to its after-school and summer programming.

“That’s our main challenge, getting middle schoolers to come, not out of numbers and getting to say we serve so many kids but that there are programs and activities designed for more students so the more that come, the better the activities can be,” said Teen Director Garrett Scott. “So we’ve been really adding to our recruiting effort, that way the high-quality programs get talked about at school and more middle schoolers want to come.”

Recruiting in conjunction with National Boys and Girls Club week, Executive Director Rebecca Johnson said she hopes to garner more interest in the programming the club offers locally.

“I’m excited for our field trips and the summer swim days on Wednesdays,” said Johnson. “Like when we go to COSI in Columbus, yes there’s the science component, but also the technology and how things have changed over time in that field, too. which we integrate into our program for the week.”

Two teens at the club Monday said they’re often checking with friends to see if the other is going there after school.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Joseph Farmer, 7, of Williamstown, left, and Avery Rusk, 8, of Williamstown, play Uno at the Washington County Boys and Girls Club Monday with Youth Development Staffer Zoe Ham.

“I did that today, asking if Cassandra was coming,” said Bella Karcher, 13, of Marietta, as she sat next to her friend Cassandra Mankin, also 13, of Marietta.

The pair said they enjoy helping younger students at the club with their homework and with activities.

“Especially the kindergarteners,” said Mankin. “And if there’s a problem or something you want to talk about the staff here are always good listeners and give good advice, too.”

Outside of structured homework time–called power hours at the club– crafts, STEM activities and games are a regular offering.

“I like it here because I can hang out with my friends and I love when I walk in, and they say welcome to me,” said Avery Rusk, 8, of Williamstown, as she sat to play card games with her peers. “But when we do the activities, I get fascinated by the science, and they keep us entertained.”

Program Director Angie Scott already has her eyes on the additional time the staff will get with participants in the summer program, as they look at students who could, based on maturity, move up to the teen programs and make room for more students on the waitlist.

“Right now we already have 112 kids registered for summer… grades three to five are always our largest group,” she explained. “That’s up from when we average 60 to 65 kids a day during the school year.”

Both Scott and Karcher said they are excited about one program though that lasts all summer, and starts next week.

“It’s the gardening,” said Scott. “Marcus McCartney from the OSU extension office will be starting with our after-school kids next weeks cleaning out the beds and starting to plant. Then in the summer they all weed, water, harvest and eat what they grow.”

“Gardening is my favorite and I even asked my mom if we could garden at home,” added Karcher. ” Here we have a separate section (the middle school group) takes care of. And I like that we have the raised beds, so you don’t have to bed down as much.”

And the club is already looking to grow its programming next school year for literacy as well, said both executive director Rebecca Johnson, and Youth Development Staffer Zoe Ham.

“We’re still working on identifying funding and how to get volunteers involved to make reading fun,” explained Ham.

If you go:

• Family Board Game Night at the Washington County Boys and Girls Club will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 24.

• Middle School Movie Night at the Washington County Boys and Girls Club will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. April 26.

Source: Washington County Boys and Girls Club.

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