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After School Programs - Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Updated on September 27, 2011

Looking for a summer camp or after-school care for your kids? Check out the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

I never thought my son would be a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. It’s not that we didn’t like it or anything, we just never really explored the opportunity. Until we moved to the Smoky Mountains almost five years ago, my son attended an after-school program at the school where I worked. I guess I never really appreciated it until I didn’t have it anymore.

When we moved, our son was in the fifth grade and 10 years old. He left a private Christian school where he had been since he was three. The new public school experience was enough of a shock that I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him home alone after school, much less ride a school bus, so that wasn’t really an option.

Almost as a last resort, I researched our local Boys and Girls Club for their after-school and summer programs. I was impressed with the low cost, homework help and recreational programs so we signed him up. He’s fifteen now and it has been a wonderful experience for him and for our family.

Without the club, I would have nowhere to send my son after school and in the summer. While he's old enough to be home alone for a time, there are hundreds of children who are not. What would parents do without the club? Daycares and city programs fill quickly and some are quite expensive.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America began as a boys club only in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut. Girls were not admitted until 1990. In 2010 the BGCA was voted the number one youth organization in the United States. There are 4000 chartered clubs and more than 51,000 staff with 4.2 million children in attendance today. 65% of the children are from minority families.

The mission of the BGCA is: “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

Their core beliefs are: “a safe place to learn and grow; ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals; life-enhancing programs and character development experiences; and hope and opportunity.” More detailed information is available at

Programs our son has been involved in “at the club” have helped him to be a mature, caring teen. Character and leadership skills are taught. He is a member of Keystone (ages 13-18) which is a teen leadership group. They focus on academics, career goals and community service. One of the activities he is involved in with Keystone is helping at the concession stand and refereeing the younger students’ basketball games.

The Education and Career program helps students academically. As a member of the Junior Staff, club members (ages 13-18) help younger students with reading and other homework and help the staff with a variety of other duties. I personally love “Power Hour” where the students work on their homework with assistance from staff if needed. The director of our branch is helping our son with Algebra. The Career Launch program (ages13-18) helps young people with resume writing, skills training and possible career decisions.

The Health and Life Skills Program emphasizes teaching children about drugs, alcohol, SMART MOVES (skills mastery and resistance training), proper nutrition and numerous other things. Members have supported breast cancer awareness and have bussed tables for Kiwanis pancake suppers.

Art is part of the daily program in “The Arts.” The BGCA participates in the National Fine Arts Exhibit Program. Art classes are held and our club holds a talent show for students to display their talents.

Sports/Fitness/Recreation is a favorite of many club members. Both indoor and outdoor sports and activities are offered for every age group. My son has never been terribly athletic but he really enjoys basketball and several other sports/games offered.

Each individual club offers specialized programs, as well. Field trips are a regular part of the curriculum. Our teen participates in the monthly “Teen Late Night,” and enjoys such activities as scavenger hunts, eating at local restaurants and visiting area attractions, college basketball games, farm team baseball games, etc.

Some famous “graduates” of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America include: Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead, Ray Combs (Family Feud Host), Ashanti Douglas (Princess of Hip Hop), Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H), Evander Holifield, Jackie Joyner Kersee (Olympic Gold Medalist), basketball star Michael Jordan, Sugar Ray Leonard and Jennifer Lopez (actor/singer/dancer, current American Idol Host).

Sponsors of the organization include such brands as Coca Cola, Taco Bell, Comcast Cable, Walmart, Staples, The Walt Disney Co., Sprint and Kiwanis.

If you need a summer camp or after-school care for your children, consider your local Boys and Girls Club. You'll be glad you did.



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