Painting Party at Boys & Girls Club of Bay Mills

The Boys & Girls Club of Bay Mills in Brimley, MI, hosts quarterly events for their teens at the Club. Usually this event is centered on a lock in where teen Club members get the entire Club to themselves for the night, with the exception of a few staff chaperones. However, when it was time for the teen event this past quarter, the lock in was not a possibility because there were no chaperones available.

Instead of canceling their teen takeover night, they decided to make it into an extended evening event. While the boys’ teen night turned into an open gym tournament, Boys & Girls Club of Bay Mills staff member, Valencia Lyons, decided she wanted to try out a special event for the teen girls. This is where her idea of a “painting party” came into play. She got the idea from the increasingly popular Paint Nite, an event where people typically go with a group of friends to work on a painting project led by a professional artist, with food and beverages usually served.

Lyons figured she could take this idea right to the girls at the Club, and she was right! Staff members were nervous about the turnout (it was spring break for the schools in the area), but 20 teenage girls showed up to the event! They even had to scrounge up more canvas due to the unexpected turnout.


Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Goes the Distance

During National Boys & Girls Club Week, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Support Services travelled over 200 miles to visit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Peach Springs, a branch of the organization. Though the Unit Director, Amelia Walema, was aware they were making this trip, most of the staff and all of the youth were completely surprised by the visit. Peach Springs is Greater Scottsdale’s most rural Club, with the closest town being 50 miles away. Because of this distance, youth and staff from Peach Springs do not get the opportunity to interact much with support services, making the surprise visit that much sweeter.

Sixteen staff members journeyed to the Club to enjoy lunch and activities with the youth and fellow staff members. They participated in every kind of activity, from board games to arts and crafts to dance. They even played rounds of jumbo cup stacking, where Club youth challenged staff members. The staff turned it into an amazing day for the youth and they finally got to meet the team that makes their Club experience possible.


“It’s a-me, Mario!” Iconic Game Celebrated in Alaska

Spring Break has passed, but the memories that have been created are worth a thousand words. It’s the time of year when Boys & Girls Clubs and Club staff get busier as youth are out of school and coming to the Club for longer hours! In March, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southcentral Alaska celebrated National Mario Day, a holiday dedicated to the popular Nintendo game and beloved characters, Super Mario and his brother, Luigi! This day of nostalgia occurs on March 10 due to the way the date appears when abbreviated (Mar10).

Club youth celebrated by having special gym activities to get moving! They worked to create life sized Mario karts, and then subsequently raced them in a Club-wide Mario Kart Tournament. Club staff created cardboard turtle shells to toss out onto the gym “race-track” as youth raced one another, staying true to the Mario Kart videogame! A character contest was later hosted in addition to the races. Youth were encouraged to dress as their favorite Nintendo character, but most chose to dress as one of the famous Mario Bros, with their signature overalls and caps! Participants also had the opportunity to make their very own personal pizzas and host a Mario party for the remainder of the day. Needless to say, National Mario Day was loaded with fun, creativity, and competition.

Mama mia, we can’t wait to see what Alaska Clubs have planned for next year!


Celebrating Native Alaskan Culture

Culture plays a key role in youth programming at Native Alaskan Boys & Girls Clubs. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that activities that honor traditions take place at each Unit on a monthly basis. The various activities Clubs engage in are unique to each community. The Boys & Girls Club of Tyonek, for example, maintains Junior and Senior Native Youth Olympics teams, as well as a drumming group. In the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kotzebue, youth participate in Environmental Club. Every year they have participated in subsistence fishing, berry gathering, stinkweed salve-making, and traditional drum-making. The Boys & Girls Club of Metlakatla takes a yearly Club-wide camping trip where youth collect and preserve Native foods like sea asparagus and local fish. Metlakatla’s cultural programming also benefits from a strong relationship with the local school, which employs a Sm’algyax language teacher. She volunteers at the Club once per week, teaching members to read, write, and speak the language.

Dancing is also a significant part of many Native Alaskan cultures. In the Boys & Girls Club of Klawock, Club members have learned and participated in traditional local dances for many years. Recently, youth and staff members dressed for a dance at the local Whale House for their grand re-opening.


Penobscot Boys & Girls Club - Presque Isle Trip to Blue Hill Farm

Inspired by the On the T.R.A.I.L. Diabetes Prevention Program, youth at the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club in Presque Isle, Maine, recently took an exciting trip to the Blue Hill Peninsula to learn local stories of the surrounding area. It has a long history of family farming and fishing, and has recently received national media attention for promoting and supporting local farms and food enterprises. Thanks to the work of these “local heroes”, delicious, high-quality food is produced year-round. This was a fantastic opportunity to get youth interested in eating locally produced and organic food. In the spring, Club staff will be working on a large community garden project together with their youth, growing their own food to share with elders in the community as well as the Club's food program. According to Program Coordinator Ashley Rekem, “I thought that a trip like this was a good precursor to whet their appetites for high quality produce and farm products.”

Youth in the program visited the Winter Farmer’s Market in Blue Hill, which was held inside a glass greenhouse. They also visited and toured the world renowned Four Season Farm on beautiful Cape Rosier, owned by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch. Together with Eliot's daughter Melissa and her two children, the family produces year-round using a variety of tools and techniques developed by Eliot over his 40+ years of experience. Youth learned the process for how they produce their delicious vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, and eggs.

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