In an effort to provide kids across the Santa Clarita Valley with a safe place to play and learn over spring break while parents are working, the Boys & Girls Club of SCV holds an annual camp.
Through the pandemic, the Boys & Girls Club has also been doing what it can to provide in-person distance learning support to small groups of children at McGrath and Newhall elementary schools.
Now for spring break, the club gave those same students the opportunity to take a break from school and instead continue exploring the arts, be active and have fun with all the same health and safety protocols on the two campuses.
“Really, it’s about the kids having fun right now because what we’ve been doing with them each day (normally) is helping them with schoolwork,” said Matt Nelson, CEO of the club. “It’s been such a stressful year that this is the most time they get to just unwind and do fun things, play outside, do art projects, fun activities and games. The kids haven’t really been able to play like that for a long time.”
While the fee for the camp is just $50, Nelson soon discovered that it was still a barrier for some families, especially those with more than one child.
“It’s tough when you’re trying to help people and serve the community. There’s always more you want to do,” Nelson said.
That’s where the Rotary Satellite Club of Santa Clarita, an extension of the main Rotary Club that has operated locally for more than 50 years, was able to step in and help through a grant from its Rotary District (5280).
“Just two days before Jason (Downs, chair of the Rotary Satellite Club) called me, several parents said they wouldn’t be able to afford the fee … Jason’s timing was perfect. Rotary was ready to help and jumped at the opportunity to provide scholarships this spring break,” Nelson added.
Rotary’s donation of $1,150 provided scholarships for 23 children, which is about a quarter of the kids in attendance this year.
“Rotary has been striving to make the world a better place for over a hundred years — that always begins with our children and their families,” Downs said. “I know firsthand the impact Boys & Girls Club has on our youth. My nephews attend the club and have benefitted from having structure and positive male role models there. Every little bit counts. Every child is worth it. The club and Rotary want the same things for our youth. We are proud to be working side by side in the community.”
As life begins to return to normal and more kids are allowed to return to in-person learning, the Boys & Girls Club looks forward to a time when the club’s regular activities can also return, but in the meantime, they’ll continue to serve kids in any way they can.
“Kids need every chance they can get to socialize and be active. We’re able to provide that while following public health protocols,” Nelson said. “Thanks to Rotary, these kids are getting what they need right now.”
The Rotary Club encourages the community to get involved, as there are more kids out there in need of support, according to Downs.