ILWACO — The Boys & Girls Club of the Long Beach Peninsula (BGC) has seen amazing growth in the past year, and it shows no sign of slowing.

From the time BGC opened their doors in September, the staff has been focused on growing and improving program quality. Hannah Williams, current BGC program coordinator, was intent on defining the day-to-day structure while giving members choice and voice in programming.

“I want to kids to feel like this is their Club,” she said.

The tactic proved to be a hit and membership increased by 89 percent from the year before. In fact, BGC almost hit their facility’s capacity in April when a total of 92 members attended club on the same day.

“It was a little unexpected, but we handled it well,” said Colton Christner, current AmeriCorps volunteer.

In the fall BGC will be opening a teen center after school in the Ilwaco High School library. BGC has increased its teen membership in the past six months by over five times, already surpassing their December 2016 goal. The Teen Center is a collaboration with Ocean Beach School District (OBSD) and Gear Up, a grant-funded college readiness program. BGC has also received a $9,000 grant specifically for the teen center, which will help pay for start-up costs of games and supplies, as well as program staffing.

BGC is also looking to partner with 4-H and start a “club within a club.” They are in search of a 4-H leader who can meet with kids at least once a month at their club in Ilwaco. Throughout May and June, the Grays Harbor and Pacific County Master Gardeners have been teaching BGC kids how to grow and care for plants.

“It would be great for us to continue something like what we have done with Master Gardeners,” said Williams. “The kids really like it and Hugh [Barrett] has been amazing with them.”

This summer BGC will be open Monday through Friday from June 27 through July 15, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. They will also be partnering with Hal and Diane Buttrell for their second annual Oysterville Science Academy (OSA) at the historic Oysterville Schoolhouse. OSA is a 12-day immersion camp for both incoming and outgoing fourth graders, where participants learn how a scientist thinks, using “Science: A Process Approach” curriculum. On the last day of camp, graduation is held and the young scientists display their portfolio for all attendees. Opening dates in September are yet to be announced.

The membership cost for BGC is $25 per child per year, with scholarships available to needy families. If you would like to donate to BGC or find out more information, you can visit its website at longbeachbgc.com, find them on Facebook, or call 642-8668.

This update was written by BGC Director Allie Friese, who also is a Chinook Observer correspondent.

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