Beating the Back to School Blues

Fun Activities to Start After School Programs

The end of summer can bring mixed emotions to children and adults alike. It is a time of transition from days of play to days that are scheduled around school, homework, and extracurricular activities. While the school year can be a welcoming relief to some, it can cause stress for others. Back to school doesn’t have to be plagued with the blues! Here are fun ways to get Club kids back into the swing of programming and introduce new faces that may be showing up at the Club.

There’s no sugar coating it, summer is over. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t sweeten up going back to school! Grab a bag of Skittles or M&M’s for some fun at the first few days of after school programs at the Club. Give each participant 5 pieces of candy. Each color will represent a fun fact that the youth can share. You decide the fun fact! Here are some examples: a red candy means that the participant will share something fun they did over summer, an orange candy means that the participant will share their favorite music artist, a blue or purple candy means that the participants will share something the group doesn’t know about them like a hobby they have picked up or a special talent. The options are endless!


Summer Slide Prevention Tips

With summer right around the corner, it is easy to want to put thoughts of academics to the side. It then becomes increasingly difficult to maintain education and physical activity levels because there is no longer a set program to follow. This summer, Clubs and families can improve child well-being by encouraging reading and physical activity!

Summer slide tells us that reading skills in our youth decrease over the summer months. In order to prevent this, try taking youth to the library, letting them choose their own books, and encouraging them to bring books along on road trips and vacations!

Did you know that 62% of children really enjoy reading and say that it is a fun way to pass the time? The more youth are presented with the opportunity to read, the more they can explore their enjoyment of it. Along with the slide in academic skills, physical activity can decrease over the summer as well. This can be prevented with simple structured summer programming which can prevent unhealthy wellness practices in youth. The opportunity that youth have to participate in the Club over the summer can significantly help in the prevention of physical activity loss.

More information on summer slide prevention can be found here!


Celebrating 25 Years of Native Clubs at BGCA National Conference

This May, Native Boys & Girls Clubs celebrated 25 years and were proudly represented at Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2017 National Conference. Located in Dallas, TX, this year’s National Conference hosted a series of engaging sessions, special guests, and exhibitors that included the Native Services Unit (NSU). Participants eagerly explored the exhibit hall and learned more about the exciting initiatives and accomplishments of Native Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. On display at the Native Services booth was the History of Native Clubs Timeline, the 2016 BGCIC Annual Report, and a “How to Start a Boys & Girls Club in Native Lands” packet. Guests were also met with a “Welcome” sign that incorporated greetings from each team member’s language, and a beautiful picture board filled with photos taken at various Native Club sites. Members of the NSU team also brought pieces that represented their culture to be displayed at the booth.

Additionally, guests were invited to participate in a session created just for Native Club professionals. The session focused on promising practices for improving the optimal Club experience, where special guest Dr. Beverly Cotton of Indian Health Service (IHS) spoke on mental and behavioral health. It was also an honor for the NSU team to present the Native Spirit Award to Chad Evans of the Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area for his devoted leadership. Afterwards, members of the Native Advisory Committee (NAC) joined together to discuss accomplishments, progress, and future goals for Native Clubs. Speaking of accomplishments, Conference guests were also invited to attend the local Texas Rangers game, where Boys & Girls Club of Tahlequah member Lyric Peterson sung the National Anthem.

On the last day’s Morning General Session, the NSU, representatives from Native Clubs and BGCIC partners were invited to join the stage in honor of celebrating 25 years of Native Clubs. All National Conference guests witnessed the Ceremonial MOU Signing with IHS. Learn more about the BGCA IHS MOU here or on IHS's Facebook page. What an incredible way to wrap up the year’s BGCA National Conference and celebrate 25 years of Native Clubs!


Help Wanted: Engaging Summer Help Across Generations

Do you want to recruit local teens or retired professionals? If your answer is teens, then you aren’t going to rely on an ad in the local newspaper to bring in your summer help. However, that could be a great way to catch the eye of older folks in the community! Knowing who is available to come either be a part-time staff member or volunteer can shape your recruitment strategy. Social media, local news outlets, and radio are great ways to let the community know your hiring. Just be aware that not all generations are in touch with each medium.

Word of mouth can also be an effective recruiting strategy in smaller communities — if the word being spread is positive. Time and resources may be tight but have a staff and volunteer only event if possible. Celebrate success. Share a delicious meal. Also, decide on long and short-term goals collectively, do an anonymous needs assessment survey, and incorporate teambuilding experiences. Praise from current staff and volunteers about management can attract candidates just as negative words can steer them away.


New Routines, New Perspectives

Spring has sprung which means that many programs are continuing on while the preparation for summer programming begins. We have shared a few posts recently that are meant to get the creative juices flowing in relation to implementing new activities. Well, today we are here to say that you absolutely, do not need to incorporate all new things at once!

Why are you a youth development professional with your local Club?

One word- the youth! Technically that was two words but you know what we mean. Improving opportunities for youth brings us into the Club every day, even when our names are not on the schedule. So, let the youth be your co-navigator as new activities, programs, and clubs are being integrated into the daily grind.

Engaging youth in changes, even slight changes to activities, can lead to greater connections with what is happening when the Club house is open. It is empowering for the youth to feel ownership of their programs and it leaves the guessing work out when you are making new schedules that introduce new activities. New perspectives on new routines can result in greater participation and less stress!