Next month, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB) will once again open eight of its Clubs across Boston and Chelsea for summer camp, and our staff are surpassing state-advised safety protocols to ensure members and staff have a safe, enjoyable summer.
This summer, BGCB staff will maintain safety precautions that go above and beyond state and CDC guidelines. Members, staff, and limited visitors will be required to fill in health screening forms upon entering the Club and will be observed throughout the day for possible symptoms. All surfaces will continue to be frequently sanitized, and masks will be required inside unless eating or swimming. Additional nurses will be on-site at our five free-standing Clubs for at least 20 hours per week to monitor and ensure the health of members and staff.
To maintain three feet of distancing, members will be placed in age-appropriate pods, and each pod have a home base room at the Club, where they will begin each day and participate in most of their activities. Enrichment activities will occur on a smaller scale than typical school day afternoons—pods will visit the music room, performing arts room, gym, and pool on a rotating schedule. In comparison to tighter restrictions maintained throughout the school year, members will be able to share equipment and can enjoy more collaborative games and group activities.
With most field trip locations closed last summer, this year’s pods will be able to attend field trips that are outside or allow for ample physical distancing. “We have so many favorite destinations that we’re looking forward to visiting this summer, like the zoo, hiking, historical landmarks, and the beach,” says Krishna Foran, Program Director at Charlestown Club.
While Clubs usually use public transportation or vans for transportation, BGCB will be investing in private bus rentals to keep members and staff at least three feet apart while travelling to and from field trip destinations. The bus windows will be open during the trip and staff and masks will be required for members and staff.
“There has been some amount of learning loss over the year,” says Pete Nash, Associate Vice President of Operations. “This summer is an opportunity to mitigate these effects with educational field trips and programming.”
With state safety guidelines slowly lessening, staff can get back to hallmark activities that members missed last summer. At Charlestown Club, Krishna is creating a curriculum for summer camp centered around key themes: building self-esteem, good sportsmanship, community, and practicing positive reinforcement. And what better way to tackle all these areas at once than celebrating the 2021 Olympics?
Each pod will be assigned a country and will learn the foods, demographics, culture, and language. Members will also earn points throughout the summer for not only physical activities, but also activities such as Lego and art challenges. “It’s important to offer different opportunities that allow for members with different skill sets to be able to participate and excel,” says Krishna. “Plus, offering a variety of activities allows for different leaders to emerge, lead their peers, and collaborate.” At the end of the Olympics, they’ll show other pods what they’ve learned about their country, and at the winner’s circle, members will be applauded for their specific achievements.
BGCB is looking forward to allowing many of our corporate and community partners back into our Clubs, who will helping enrich the summer camp experience across Boston and Chelsea. Krishna says, “We’re lucky to have great partners who will offer different and fun opportunities to the kids. We wouldn’t be able to do all these engaging and creative programs without their support.”
Among our many generous partners, Green City Growers will conduct a gardening program at many of our Clubs, teaching members about healthy eating habits while offering access to homegrown produce. Home Depot and Reebok have built garden beds at some of our Clubs, some of which are available for community use. Additionally, ReadBoston’s Story Mobile Program will host outdoor storytellers each week, and members will be able to choose a book to share with family and friends.
Our Junior Staff—part-time employed teen members—will continue to work alongside Club staff, with 2-3 Junior Staff assisting each pod. Many will have the opportunity to become lifeguard certified and will be placed in pods or activity areas where they can flourish and uniquely support their members. “We haven’t seen our Junior Staff in a while and we’re excited to have them back and support them in their growth—this is where they should be,” says Krishna.
One Step Closer to Our Next Stage of Normalcy
It’s been a uniquely challenging year, and our dedicated staff have adapted above and beyond job descriptions to become teachers, proctors, parent-teacher liaisons, and everything in between. “Our staff have been able to learn about and understand a novel virus, they’ve been flexible and accommodating, they’ve changed their working hours, all while prioritizing members and their needs and safety,” says Pete.
With all that staff have learned, BGCB is equipped and prepared to offer a safe, fun summer camp experience for all members. “While still remaining vigilant about safety, this summer we’ll get back to some stability and normalcy,” says Pete. “The classic fun that makes being a part of BGCB so enjoyable.”
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