Summer youth programs with activities ranging from air hockey to pool to crafts have begun locally, but measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have limited the number of participants.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama will not open its Priceville location as planned, and the Third Street facility in Decatur will be the only Morgan County unit open this summer. The club had previously said the program at Oak Park Elementary would remain closed.
Caki Bolding, director of research development for Morgan County Boys & Girls Clubs, said the decision to reopen only the Third Street location was made with social distancing guidelines in mind.
“This way we have more staff inside the building to help regulate the guidelines put in place by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which we are heavily enforcing,” Bolding said.
Located at 407 Third St. S.W. in Decatur, the facility is open for its summer program from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Bolding said summer registration is open at all three Decatur club locations for Third Street programs. “Registration is operating on a first-come, first-served basis. We still have a few spots open for the rest of summer programs,” she said.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the club is not permitting volunteers, parents or guests inside. The club also is operating at half capacity, serving a maximum of 46 kids. Bolding said both members and staff have their temperatures checked twice a day. Kids are separated into groups based on age with no more than 12 children in a classroom. Bolding said they are served two meals and a snack each day.
“Kids must stay with that group and staff member throughout that whole day of programming,” Bolding said. “They have specific times for restroom breaks, and are washing hands every 30 minutes. We have staff specifically assigned for cleaning and sanitizing, which also happens on a 30-minute basis.”
Bolding said that staff are required to wear masks, but members are not. Blue tape and footprint markers are in place to indicate the direction members and staff should walk to maintain social distance while at the club.
Bolding said the club primarily focuses on children whose parents work during the day.
“Our kids come from any and all backgrounds. We just hope to meet their needs wherever they might be at that time. Most of our kids feel as if the club is more safe than their actual home, and that they have the opportunity to strive to become their best self outside of any circumstances they might be dealing with at home or in their daily life,” Bolding said.
Summer programming at the Third Street Club will run until July 31.
Decatur Youth Services
Decatur Youth Services’ Grab-and-Go Camp started Monday, providing kids ages 4 to 13 with free bags of crafts, books and more. Decatur Youth Services Director Lemzel Johnson said the Grab-and-Go Camp was designed with COVID-19 safety in mind.
The camp runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday through July 31. It’s held at four different apartment complexes each week: Sunset Apartments on Mondays, Decatur Place Apartments on Tuesdays, East Acres Apartments on Wednesdays and Sandlin Villa Apartments on Thursdays.
Johnson said the camp had close to 40 participants on Monday, and almost 30 on Tuesday.
Decatur Youth Services is also partnering with Alabama Extension Services to host a virtual STREAM Camp for kids ages 10 to 13. The camp will focus on science, technology, reading, engineering, agriculture and math. The camp will meet on Zoom on Tuesdays or Thursdays from June 30 until July 30 from 3 to 4 p.m. The needed supplies will be provided for participants.
Johnson said the Summer Youth Employment program is proceeding this summer, with about 30 teenagers participating.
Neighborhood Christian Center
The Summer Youth Program at the Neighborhood Christian Center is in its second week and going well, Director Pam Bolding said.
“The teens are respecting the safety guidelines we have in place and are following social distancing,” Bolding said. “We are trying to plan a few pop-ups in the neighborhood we serve so they are working on creating a couple of dances and skits for that. They were excited that we can possibly make that happen.”
Bolding said the participants are taking a Faith and Finance course, a Healthy Relationship course, studying the Bible, and will soon write letters to nursing home residents and begin outdoor volunteer work at the Center’s three transitional homes.