Youth Explore Wilderness and Culture at the Passamaquoddy Boys & Girls Club

With autumn underway, youth from the Passamaquoddy Boys & Girls Club in Indian Township, ME are reminiscing about summer. Club members traveled to two camps this summer that allowed them to explore the scenic forest lands and waterways of Maine’s wilderness. By the glamorous sea sides of Winter Harbor, ME a total of 60 youth attended Science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), where they participated in sessions on identifying medicinal and edible Native plants and on orienteering with maps and compasses. The weeklong camp was a cultural exchange program with guests from reservations in New York (Onondaga, Mohawk, and Seneca).

The Passamaquoddy youth also joined in Back to Basics, a camp held in Houlton, ME that focused on alcohol and drug prevention, safe dating, and many other topics that plague many tribal communities today. Coordinated by the University of Maine - Bangor, Back to Basics brings together youth from various reservations with college students who provide mentorship on transitioning from reservation life to college. Kyle Lolar, who currently serves as a Boys & Girls Club in Indian Country AmeriCorps* VISTA member at the Passamaquoddy Club, recruited youth to participate in the camp this year, and facilitated some programming. He first got involved in the camp while still a student at the University of Maine. Through his participation, he met peers from other reservations who are also still involved with the camp today.

“This camp makes it possible that our tribal youth could become leaders within their own communities and bring awareness home. College Students are able to help youth face what they need to face when they transition away from our reservation into college life. The students assuage their fears. Youth learn that not all of the obstacles they imagine are real.” - Kyle Lolar, VISTA member at the Passamaquoddy Boys & Girls Club

Photo Credit: Kyle Lolar


New Doors Open at the Boys & Girls Club of Moody County

The Boys & Girls Club of Brookings - Moody County Unit, SD, has moved from five different temporary locations since they opened their doors in 2007. A change came this August when the Club opened the doors to a brand new, permanent home!

Generous support from the community made it possible to construct a 12,000 square foot building for the youth of Moody County. For the first time, the Club has separate spaces to implement a variety of impact programs. The new building offers youth an art room, a science and technology center, a games room, and a quiet space for tutoring and homework help. The building also includes a teen center, which allows the Club to create programs specifically for middle and high school populations for the first time.

The new facility, in conjunction with funds granted by the Larson Family Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program, provides the Club a new capacity to help youth succeed in school and in life. Grant funds will be used for a tutoring program, mentoring program, and a career builders program. Each program will be implemented through a strong collaboration with the schools in the area and other community resources.


Making Memories and Building Life Skills through Mentoring

The Boys & Girls Club of Nowata, located in Nowata, OK, is succeeding in opening doors to brighter futures through their mentoring program, made possible by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) pass through funding! Treasure Standeford, Club Chief Professional Officer, and her staff have taken the guidelines of mentoring and expanded the program to meet the needs of their Club youth. What started as a basic mentoring program has flourished into dependable mentor to mentee relationships accompanied with hands on activities that promote life-long learning for all.

What lends to their success with mentor to mentee matches? Being proactive to make sure mentors are up to date with the schedule and they are to keep with their matches and what is expected of them in their role. Standeford explained, “If they [mentors] miss a day or time, they know that they need to make it up to their mentee because the activities and time spent together are important”.

Club youth are presented with the opportunity to build a solid relationship with a mentor while taking part in exciting, exploratory activities. Throughout the duration of the program, participants have been able to learn about important life skills, such as cooking and sewing. However, it is more than just cooking a dish for everyone to enjoy or sewing a project to enter in the local fair. Participants are using other skills such as math for measuring ingredients and science to repair donated sewing machines.

Through dependable mentor/mentee matches and multidimensional activities, Club youth are having positive experiences that will last a lifetime! Our hats are off to the Boys & Girls Club of Nowata and their staff for their great work with mentoring.

Photo Credit: Crystal Blagg, Mentoring Coordinator at Boys & Girls Club of Nowata


New Youth Center Opens Doors for Brighter Futures

For some time, the small, quaint community of Snowbird, part of the Cherokee lands, was isolated to the point it was forgotten at times. However, the community of Snowbird can no longer be overlooked. A brand new, 15,000 square foot facility, entitled the Snowbird Youth Center, was opened by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in mid July to give home to Boys & Girls Clubs of Cherokee Snowbird Unit. The new facility was constructed on nearly 20 acres of land that the tribe is leasing from the U.S. Forest Service nearby for the next 25 years.

“It's an amazing day for the community and the county,” said Wanda Blythe, as reported by Cherokee One Feather. Blythe, the Snowbird Youth Center Manager, continued on to say, “It is a wonderful facility. It is beautiful. I am just so thrilled for these kids to have something they can call their own.”

While it has taken many years to complete the new youth center, it is one that does not go unappreciated or unrecognized. In fact, local officials and community members gathered together for the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new beginnings that are made possible through the opening of the youth center. Many community members that gathered for the event reminisced about times past and spoke of the opportunities that are now available for the kids.

Cherokee County - Snowbird Representative Adam Wachacha explained, “… eight years ago, this land we are standing on was just an old Forest Service road… the idea of a Boys & Girls Club was only a dream.”

Congratulations to the Boys & Girls Club of Cherokee and the new Snowbird Youth Center for fulfilling dreams and creating opportunities for the kids within the community!


Boys are being Transformed to Men with a Passport to Manhood

Boys will be boys, especially in the Passport to Manhood program. Beginning in the fall of 2004, the Boys & Girls Club of the Missouri River Area in Wagner, SD introduced, BGCA’s Passport to Manhood program that enacted several male-focused activities. This year marks the Club’s 10-year anniversary of the Passport to Manhood program and the Boys & Girls Club of the Missouri River Area plans to celebrate by continuing to grow this attraction. Everything from kayaking to archery is explored by male Club members who are fortunate enough to be a part of this unique opportunity. They can even contribute to the sound of music in the drum group portion of the program.

Kayaking and archery are the most recent additions to the program. Jon Corey is the certified instructor for these activities and is also an employee of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. Passport to Manhood Club members participatin kayaking and archery once a week, March through May. The drum group is also a distinctive component of the Passport to Manhood program. The drum group has performed at several events in the Missouri River area. Tribal functions, athletic events, VIP visits, a Day For Kids, and community gatherings are just a few of the typical places you might see this drum group perform!

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BGCA Native Services Unit
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2107 N. Collins Boulevard
Richardson, TX 75080

Direct: 972-581-2374