School's out, but they're still learning

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The Boys & Girls Club of Warwick summer camp is running at capacity at the Masonic Youth Center. While the camp has a waiting list, it caps the campers at 150 to help preserve and maintain the grounds they use.

“The Boys & Girls Club of Warwick has been running at Masonic grounds for more than 18 years. We are fortunate to have those grounds to allow our members to spend their summers on,” said Lara D’Antuono, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Warwick (BGCW). “They are creating memories of summer and friendships that will last them a lifetime.”

Divided into six groups, campers spend the day participating in a rotating schedule of activities, each lasting 45 minutes. Some of these activities include sports, “Imagination” (art), “H2O” (water activities) and STEM.

One game played at the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) station is "Mad Doctor." Unbeknownst to the other campers, one of them will start as the “Doctor.” The campers must shake each other’s hands to try and find out who the doctor is. If the doctor shakes hands with another camper, then that camper will also become "infected" and a fictional virus will spread. Counselor Emma Joy-Fitzelle-Jones, in her first year at BGCW, said that, "it is a good game because it promotes pattern seeking, and really makes the kids focus.”

Ray Fleming, the sports director in his fourth year at the Boys & Girls club said, “It is fun for me because I see different groups every day, so it’s never boring. I sometimes see natural athletes, sometimes I see kids excel in one particular sport."

At the Imagination station of the campground, campers are given certain tasks but have the creative freedom to get the task done as they please. Last Wednesday, the children were asked to draw an insect. Campers had their choice of construction paper, colors and what insect they would draw.

Parents can also be informed about what is going on in the camp if they download the “Remind” app. According to Monique Rossi, the Oakland Beach branch and camp director, this app started up last year, and in the event of inclement weather the camp will usually do a “massive blast of messages,” telling parents the camp will be meeting at the Oakland Beach clubhouse – which is indoors.

The BGCW is a summer camp, but it runs and functions like a school without classrooms; providing a similar curriculum that includes math, sciences, physical education and art.

The BGCW is expanding to open a middle school program at the former Cooper Armory on Sandy Lane in the fall. Jen White, a member of the BGWC in high school and worked there from 2001 to 2007, has been hired to run it.

“BGCW instilled in me a love for working with youth, especially middle school students," White said. “Junior high can be a tough time, so we want these youth to have a place to go that will empower them to find their own unique voice and figure out who they are.”

Activities at this program include everything from yoga, robotics and coding to visual arts, theatre and dance. White said she is especially excited about their music program, which will give students access to a state-of-the-art recording studio. With plans to renovate the building, there are various rooms designated and programs that will take place in them. The teen center will be the home base; Yoga will be run out of the wellness studio, and Robotics in the education center. According to D’Antuono, the BGCW is able to continue with the expansion and renovation because they raised $75,000 from the RI Foundation for the staff, which was matched with a $100,000 grant from Rhode Island Council on the Arts, a $50,000 match from MetLife and Champlin Foundations, and $50,000 from Balise. They also received another $150,000 from Champlin for renovations.

For more information about programs, special events or the camp calendar, visit their website at www.wbgclubs.org, or call them at 467-4385.

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