South Lake Tahoe Boys and Girls Club sees growth
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Since kindergarten, Piper and Parker Arnold participated in programs at the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.
The twins, now 8, are in third grade and still participate in the club, according to mother Terri Arnold. It’s also been a benefit to her.
“The biggest thing the club has done for me is that it helps kids with their homework,” she said.
Arnold, who is the club’s board president, said her twins are engaged in the program, much like the rest of its members.
“I pick them up and they tell me they don’t want to leave,” she said. “It’s an alternative place where they are learning when I can’t be there.”
According to Boys and Girls Club executive director Jude Wood, Arnold’s experience is a sentiment shared by other parents, as seen by the organization’s growing membership.
“We grew 125 percent this summer and have grown at least 50 percent in our after-school program,” Wood said. “I would like to see us continue to grow.”
Nearly 500 children utilize the club, with an average of 250 attending daily. Wood said the number of children accommodated grows to 300 on days when elementary students are released early.
TYPES OF PROGRAMMING
The Boys and Girls Club provides after-school programs like homework tutoring, sports and arts and crafts. In addition, it provides summer sports programs and field trips. The South Lake Tahoe chapter of the Boys and Girls Club began in 1991.
One example of unique programming includes an upcoming camp over the Thanksgiving holiday. At the camp professors from University of Nevada, Reno will teach Boys and Girls Club members how to develop computer code.
Wood said that while some people look at the Boys and Girls Club as an extended babysitter service, it provides much more.
“We definitely use the time the children are with us to help them academically, socially and mentally,” Wood said.
Molly Hucklebridge Coolidge, a club board member, also supported that idea.
“Children benefit by gaining academic and social skills as well as emotional growth,” she said.
Some of the Boys and Girls Club’s goals include exposing children to education alternatives beyond high school, according to Wood.
“We want higher education in some form to be an aspiration for all of our kids,” Wood said.
She added that members provide a positive impact on students in terms of preventing drug use.
“We’ve found through our self-reporting surveys that 100 percent of our teenagers abstained from drugs like marijuana,” Wood said.
The surveys are submitted anonymously to the Boys and Girls Club of America.
The club assists working parents with after-school programming as well.
“If we weren’t here and parents had to work seven fewer hours per week to be at home to watch their children, even on minimum wage that’s a loss of $3,640 per year from the family income,” Wood said.
A large amount of the Boys and Girls Club funding comes from community donations, fundraisers, grants and annual membership fees of $100. The local chapter receives no funding from the national organization itself, and instead must pay a fee to belong to the chapter.
Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course hosts an annual golf tournament to help the club. Wood said that the Oct. 12 event raised $50,000 for the organization. Other supporters include Vail Resorts, Barton Health and South Tahoe Refuse.
Wood said, however, the club could be more engaged with other sectors of the community.
“I would love to have better relationships with the casinos, for example,” Wood said. “Such connections would be especially beneficial for older teenagers if they are looking at careers in the hospitality industry.”
Wood noted that there’s a population increase in South Lake Tahoe, indicative of its spike in membership and participation along with the growth in the school district’s enrollment.
That also means potential expansion for club offerings. In Wood’s eyes, that includes a winter sports league open for all children in South Lake Tahoe and the potential for a larger location.
The Boys and Girls Club currently leases its location at the Al Tahoe Education Center from the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. It offers a secondary site at Bijou Community School.
“We would one day like to have a purpose-built [structure] like the ones in Truckee or Reno,” Wood said.
For more information on the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, visit http://www.bgclt.org.