Summer camps at Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland run for 10 weeks, providing week long, full day camps for youth ages 6 to 18. In addition to regular drop-in programming, kids can attend specialized summer day camps and dive into topics including the arts, sports leagues & fitness, science, exploration, leadership and more.
From Icky, Sticky Science Camps to Fashion Design to Park Hopping, there is something for everyone. The Adventurous Eaters Camp prepared youth to leave their culinary comfort zone by giving them opportunities to taste things they thought they would never try. Our partner DPI Specialty Foods put on a cheese tasting class where youth were exposed to many varieties of cheeses, crackers and an assortment of fruits to pair with cheese. They learned how cheese is made and had the opportunity to write down something they learned about each kind of cheese they tasted.
The Survivor Camp, challenged youth to outwit, outlast and outplay each other during this week long camp of challenging puzzles, obstacle courses and teamwork games. Youth learned to work as a team to solve problems, encourage one another and cheer on the success of others.
Summer Brain Gain activities help prevent summer learning loss. Studies show that youth who are not exposed to educational enrichment during non-school summer months may experience up to 22% of learning loss. One of the activities provided this summer was the chance to learn all about lady bugs and our youth got some hands-on experience with nature.
Sometimes trying to keep teens engaged is difficult, so we offered a Teen Leadership Camp which gave teens the unique chance to strengthen leadership skills over the summer through our L.E.A.D program and our Leaders in Training Program.
As the summer programs come to an end and our youth look towards heading back to school, we can proudly say that the majority of kids in our programs not only avoided summer learning loss, but are heading back to school with a 1% - 2% achievement gain!
At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland, Arts programs are offered where staff work to inspire youth to explore artistic expression through drawing, painting, music, dance, theater, printmaking, and more. Specifically in Performing Arts they strive to give wrap around exposure to the performing arts—with programs that focus on theater, music, and dance. Through these programs, youth enhance creative expression and problem solving, confidence building, and collaboration skills.
New this year, The Long-Story-Short Play Festival was created from a collaboration between our Program Development Specialist, Melissa Schenter, and the Northwest Children’s Theater’s Outreach Coordinator, Jessica Zodrow. “We loved the idea of staging original work written by BGC members, focusing less on spectacle and theatricality, and focusing more on featuring their creative voices.”
In January 2016, Jessica trained staff from three different BGCP sites—along with a handful of volunteer theatre educators—to prepare them to run the program in the clubs. Through improvisation, character creation exercises, and writing prompts, our Club kids worked for 9 weeks to write their own plays and monologues.
This program was an opportunity for our members to strengthen their literacy skills in a fun and imaginative way and feel empowered artistically, realizing their value and potential as creative individuals. The goal; to gain another tool with which they can express themselves and communicate with the world around them.
In March, all the youth who participated in the 9 week program were able to perform their original plays in front of an audience. “It was amazing. I had a really fun time, and I would do it again. It was surprising how much stuff I could create.” -Nebiyu, age 14, Wattles Club Member.
One of the five main programs the Boys & Girls Clubs offer to our youth is Character and Leadership Development, teaching them about thinking and doing for others. During Giving Tuesday, BGCP youth dedicated the day to giving back. Seven Portland-area Boys & Girls Club sites organized a day of service to show their appreciation for the year-long support of their local communities.
The Inukai Family Club in Hillsboro delivered 200 stuffed animals to the Hillsboro Fire Department and the Forest Grove Police Department to give to families and youth during times of crisis.
The firefighters asked youth to help decorate a tree to put the stuffed animals under so that the community could see them as they walked through the station. One of the youth that helped had recently been affected by tragedy and said to Club Director Rachel Parker, “I’m so happy I could help kids like me.”
At the Forest Grove Police Department, Chief Schutz was so excited about the donation. She gave youth a tour of the department and showed the kids all the aspects of being a police officer. She ended the tour by bringing them to her office and gifting each child with service metals that she had collected throughout her career.
“On the drive back the kids said to me, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever done!,’ and ‘I want to be police officer so that I can always help my community,’ and ‘I want to be an engineer when I grow up.'” said Parker.
“I am so happy that our kids got this opportunity to give back, and for our community to feel cherished by their youth,” she added.
The Wattles Club in SE Lents delivered stuffed animals to a Portland firehouse to give to families and youth during times of crisis and give thank you cards to emergency responders.
Station Captain Jason Kelly says the toys will be placed on Truck 11 and handed out to children as they are needed. Each stuffed animal had a personal note from each club member attached. The youth got to tour the firehouse, check out the firetruck, and ask questions to local firefighters.
Regence Club in New Columbia, Blazers Club in the King neighborhood, Meyer Memorial Club in Sellwood, Margaret Scott Elementary School, Parkrose Schools raked leaves for their neighbors and delivered gifts to friends of the Clubs like PGE and more!