Carbon County Boys and Girls Club members take a break from their tye-dye project to strike a pose during another fun filled day at the club's Mont Harmon home.
Since opening their doors at Mont Harmon Junior High in August of 2010, the Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County quickly caught hold becoming the area's most popular after-school program. The club now serves more than 100 local students and is expanding to include programs which better the community by educating and entertaining young people from every corner of the area.
"We are very proud of the fact that in under two years we have grown to have more than 100 members," said club executive director McKell Warburton. "That is a great accomplishment for a teen program, and to get that kind of participation on a regular basis is more than I had hoped for."
The club offers a bevy of programs to local youth, including many which focus on character, leadership, education and career development; health and life skills education as well as an introduction to fitness, recreation and the arts.
According to Warburton, community support and assistance from the school district has made a large expansion of programming available.
When school is in session, the club anchors their daily routines around Power Hour. During this time, students are encouraged to work on their homework, receive tutoring or spend time on long term school assignments. To make the program even more valuable, Mont Harmon faculty is available during this time, tutoring and assisting club students.
"The tutoring portion of the Power Hour is a huge asset to the kids," explained Warburton. "So many faculty members make themselves available to the students that many of them are able to get the one-on-one time they need. It's time they would not otherwise get in a regular school setting."
Warburton reported that they start the hour approximately 45 minutes after most students get out of school, giving them some time to "wind down" and let the school day close out. She stressed that while education is a main tenant of the program, making sure the kids have enough fun to want to keep coming back is vital.
Variety is important to the B&G Club and while the Power Hour is a daily time block, the club works to make sure that it is the only program which is ever repeated on a daily basis. According to Warburton, so many different classes and topics are available that it is not difficult to make sure the kids are always excited about what's going on after their work is done.
"I just started with the boys and girls club this year," said Tristan Madsen, a seventh grade student whose older sister got him involved with the program this year. "I like the games room tournaments. They are the best, but I also like a lot of the other activities we do."
According to Madsen, who is a transplant from Sally Mauro Elementary in Helper, coming to the Boys and Girls Club has made the adjustment of moving to a bigger school like Mont Harmon much easier.
During the school year, programming starts at 3 p.m. and continues through 6 p.m. with the district providing transportation to students from Price, Helper, Wellington and East Carbon following the days activities. This transportation ensures that students all over the area are able to participate regardless of their parent's work schedule or transportation situation.
"If it wasn't for the club I would be sitting home in the middle of nowhere bored out of my mind," said Dasia Oviatt, an eighth grade student who had been a part of the club since its inception. "I really love the sporting programs we have and the fact that you can count on the club to be there everyday."
In addition to helping with integration into the junior high and adolescent boredom, the club also provides specific programing which helps students to cope with the many challenges facing today's youth.
The 'Wiseguys' and 'Smart Girls' programs use small, dynamic and age appropriate sessions to teach gender specific material meant to assist students with the personal journey of maturation and growth. The Teen Music Moment Program gives students the chance to showcase their talent, providing the opportunity for club members to perform for their friends.
According to Warburton, Cooking Club was an instant fit for the Carbon County B&G Club, quickly becoming one of the group's most popular activities.
"The kids get hands-on cooking training and we try to show them dishes that they can make when they are left to fend for themselves," she explained. "We also show them the importance of measurements and following directions in the kitchen."
Warburton reported that the class was popular with students from the very beginning, making after school meals something the kids were excited to prepare. Cooking became so popular in fact that the club designed a fundraiser aimed at showcasing the chops of local men. The inaugural 'Real Men Can Cook' event will take place on March 10 at the Price Elks Club, pitting local chef's against one another for bragging rights. It will let the county see once and for all, just who is the best male cook in the area.
"We are looking to make this an annual event," said Warburton. "We have some great contestants lined up so far and we are hoping to get more."
The local cooks will prepare their meals off-site and then bring in bite size tasting portions. Cooks can prepare appetizers, main dishes or desserts. Those interested in attending the event can purchase tickets directly from the Boys and Girls Club.
"We are very happy with the progress of our club," said the director. "The kids have a great time here at Mont Harmon and our Keystone Club at the high school is also doing very well."
According to Warburton, it can be hard to get older students to come back to the junior high, so she has developed a Keystone Club at Carbon High which will soon be starting a reading program at area elementary schools.
"We feel like the club is only going to get better," concluded Warburton. "We have such great kids in this area and with continued community support and participation the Boys and Girls Club is definitely here to stay."