Launch Camp

“Why don’t we go to the moon anymore?” This question was asked by Gavin, a green-haired incoming 6th grader entering LaVenture Middle School. Gavin along with twenty other middle school students recently participated in Launch Camp, a NASA-inspired space program run by Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County. The youth came from all across Skagit County, from La Conner to Concrete, all united by a desire to better understand space.

Although the youth were disappointed that NASA no longer sends astronauts to the moon, they were excited by the possibility of establishing a Mars colony at some point in their future. During the four day camp, they learned how to program robotics, designed 3D printing models, learned about many of the principles of flights, and culminated the camp by launching water rockets. The activities enabled them to imagine becoming NASA scientists or even Mars colonists. At the end of the camp, all of the youth expressed a desire to continue learning about science and technology. 

Many of the robotics and rocketry activities at Launch Camp came from the Northwest Earth and Space Science Pipeline (NESSP), a NASA-funded educational outreach program. “The kids loved the idea that NASA was investing in them,” said Nathan Allen, co-leader of Launch Camp, “We worked to make it clear that NASA invests in the future of science – that used to be moon landings but now it’s our youth.” During the school year, Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County will continue to use the NESSP’s curriculum resources to empower youth. In addition to robotics and rocketry, youth will learn about environmental science and contribute data to NASA scientists through the NASA Globe program. 

Throughout the week, the youth at Launch Camp asked many excellent questions about space and the universe. But, on the last day, most of the participants asked the questions “can Launch Camp last longer?” and “will there be Launch Camp next year?” Youth in the Clubs will be empowered by Launch Camp and the lessons they learned for the rest of the school year.

A Field Trip to the Seattle Art Museum

Youth observe “Mann und Maus” on display at the Seattle Art Museum.

Club members were able to visit the Seattle Art Museum this summer. Stefano Perruccio, the Clubs’ Art Specialist was one of the chaperones for the trip. Stefano spends time at each of the Clubs coming up with thoughtful art projects for the youth to participate in and he was especially excited about this opportunity. “The museum trip offered an exposure to a variety of art within many cultures all over the world, from modern, to traditional, to indigenous all in one space. I enjoyed witnessing their engagement and energy,” he said. 

Tammy Findlay, Director of Marketing, was also able to make the trip and snap some photos. Of her experience on the trip, she said, “One of the first exhibits we viewed was a very large sculpture of an oversized black mouse sitting on top of a man lying in bed all in white. I asked one of the members if they had any thoughts on what it meant. They were confused by the question, but then had a very literal interpretation. ‘A big rat sat on him and he’s probably dead.’ I said I didn’t know what the sculpture meant, but that maybe the mouse represented something like anxiety. They said, ‘that’s weird!’ I continued asking members about details of various exhibits throughout, and soon members were coming up to me and sharing their interpretation of the art. I really enjoyed their thought process, and how they became more engaged when they realized that they were allowed to have an opinion about what they were viewing.” 

In addition to admiring the works of art, kids were challenged to remain quiet, not touch the work and adhere to boundaries set by the museum. A difficult feat, to say the least, but they all did a masterful job overall. Stefano remarked that he wished museums were more accessible to a younger audience, more interactive, and not so “buttoned-up”.  This might have been one of the reasons that they loved the Three Empathics virtual display, part of the African art collection. The dark room featured neon-projecting, changing images on the wall and on the floor while playing calming music. Some of the youth mimicked the poses of the 3 seemingly meditating or yogic figures and let the images display on them as they lay on the floor. 

Stefano followed up the experience with an art project. He explained, “After the trip, members created their own masks with paper mâché, exploring all the different styles of masks that we saw at the museum, Pacific Islander, Latin American, African American, and Native American. This brought the experience full-circle and provided hands-on learning that was more relatable for them, instead of the strictly academic viewpoint of the museum. This gave them the opportunity to be directly engaged, creating, instead of only viewing.”

Exposure to different types of artwork has shown to have an impact on kids learning and overall academic health. Visiting the museum, and providing Club kids with an “adult” perspective on art is just one more tool that helps the Clubs achieve one of their priority outcomes of Academic Success.

Un Profesor De Mathematics

LaVenture Club member Wilfredo is becoming quite the math whiz!

Many people see “math” as a four letter word. In middle school, math begins to change for students and many students find the transition challenging. Instead of using operations that most calculators can do, students begin learning about more abstract concepts like negative numbers, functions, and proportional relationships. But, for one 6th grade student at La Venture Middle School, math is a challenge to be surmounted.

Wilfrido wants to become “un profesor de mathematics” — a mathematics professor. Wilfrido came to LaVenture part way through the year and has been focused on one goal, to complete as much of the online math program Khan Academy as possible. Amazingly, Wilfredo has finished working through all of the math concepts for 6th grade, most of the concepts for 7th grade, and has begun working on 8th-grade mathematics without an advantage given to most of his peers. Wilfrido only speaks Spanish.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County run an after-school program at LaVenture Middle School called Flying Falcons. During Flying Falcons, all members complete at least an hour of homework with staff assistance, a program known as Power Hour. Wilfrido completes as much math as possible during this time and will even choose to do math when more traditionally enjoyable activities are available.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Nathan Allen, Director of STEM Initiatives for Boys & Girls Clubs. “As a former middle school math teacher, I’ve seen students make huge gains during a year. But, I’ve never seen someone work persistently through two grade levels of math, let alone an English Language Learner. He’s extraordinary.” Because of Nathan’s history as a math teacher, Wilfrido will often come to him with math questions, often needing to teach Nathan Spanish in the process.

Some students will volunteer to help Wilfrido or translate for him, only to find that he understands the math more completely than them. Like his peers, he enjoys playing games on the computer and joking around with his friends. But, given the choice, he logs onto Khan Academy with a mischievous smile and searches for a new math concept to master.

February – Youth of the Month

Congrats to Mount Vernon’s Awardees for February

Girl of the Month

Kylie M. Age 9

Kylie is a third grader at Jefferson Elementary. She has only been coming to the Club since the beginning of this school year, but in that time she has shown great character through her respectful demeanor and the value she places on those around. She has been a wonderful addition to the Mount Vernon Club environment.

Kylie M.

Boy of the Month

Manuel C. Age 10

Manuel is a fourth grader at Centennial Elementary. He has been part of our club for three and a half years. In that time, Manuel has shown himself a leader by participating in a variety of activities at the club, working hard on his homework and being respectful. We have so enjoyed having him be part of our club.

Manuel C.

Homework All-Star

Samuel T. Age 9

Samuel is a fourth grader at Little Mountain Elementary. He has been part of our club since May 2017. When Sam is at the club you can almost always find him deeply immersed in whatever book he’s currently reading or doing his homework in Power Hour. He also participates in our outdoor games regularly. Overall, he is a well rounded young man who models the importance of expanding one’s mind on a regular basis.

Samuel T.

Artist of the Month

Daisy M. Age 9

Daisy is a fourth grader at Jefferson Elementary. She first joined our club in November 2015.  Daisy is an absolute pleasure to be around her sweet, caring and respectful personality makes her a leader in the making. She is a creative person and loves participating in art. We are excited to see her continue to grow as a leader and as an artist.

Daisy M.

 

Triple Play MVP  (Sportsmanship Award)

Giovanni M. Age 9

Giovanni is a fourth grader at Jefferson Elementary. He first joined our club in November 2015. When he’s at the club you can almost always find him outside participating in Triple Play or chatting with his friends in the gamesroom. He loves participating in a variety of outdoor activities and shows good sportsmanship as well. We are excited to see him continue to grow into a young leader.

Giovanni M.

The Biggest Shed in Skagit Valley

“What is in a watershed?” Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club members pondered this question recently during a visit from the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group. Kids suggested objects as small as insects and as large as mountains only to find that all of those objects can be found in the Skagit Watershed, the region that feeds into and affects the Skagit River. As one member commented, “that must be a really big shed!

The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County includes helping youth become caring and responsible citizens. For the kids at the Mount Venture Boys & Girls Clubs, they learned more about responsible citizenship by playing games. The constructed their own “river” by placing together their drawings of the Skagit River side by side to create a line. Then, Keelin Maurmann and Emily Jankowski from the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group asked each kid to pick up an item from around the room. Flanking both sides of their “river,” the kids passed all of their items to the person standing next to them until one person at the end held all of the items. The activity helped them visualize the accumulation of items in the Skagit River and helped them understand how littering affects salmon populations.

“Kids are incredibly intuitive,” says Nathan Allen, Director of STEM Initiatives for Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County. “They understand how throwing trash on the ground affects the water which affects salmon population. More importantly, they’re young enough to avoid any bad habits and to make a lifelong positive impact on the environment.”

Environmental education creates citizens who understand their impact on the world around them and helps to protect local businesses who rely on natural resources throughout the Skagit Watershed. Through educational opportunities like the visit from Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County not only help serve youth but help protect another vulnerable population, the salmon in the Skagit River.

Pop-up Library brings books to the Anacortes Club

Throughout the year, Club Members at the Anacortes Boys and Girls Club had the opportunity to spend an hour reading every day, thanks to a local partnership with the Anacortes Public Library, who were able to provide some special reading opportunities for youth through their Pop-up Library Program. The program began last summer, and was so popular that they decided to continue into the school year.

Children’s Librarian Leslie Wilson, visits the Anacortes Boys & Girls Club on a regular basis to host the Pop-Up Library. The system uses a new web-based library catalog that makes it possible to take library services out into the community.

Wilson said that they started doing Pop-up Libraries in May at a STEM event at the Middle School. And that it is surprisingly easy. “All we need is internet access. The Pop-up Library enables us to check out books, place holds, provide member info, issue new library cards, and more,” she said. Wilson explained that thru their weekly visits to the Club during the summer, they were able to streamline the process.  “The program has really improved. It helped us figure out what worked and what didn’t, really fine tune the program.”

The Pop-up library was also very popular with the kids. “What I liked about the pop-up library was that we got to check out books without going to the real library. I also liked hearing the different stories Leslie read to us,” said Club Member Alaea Cerrillo. The Boys and Girls Club has a library of books that the kids can choose from, but the Pop-up Library expanded their choices.

“I could tell how excited the kids were, because of how patiently they waited to check out their books. We run choice-based programs at the Club, so there are activities going on simultaneously. Lots of kids were choosing to look at the library books that were brought in and check out new ones for next time.” said the Club’s Marketing Director, Tammy Findlay.

Wilson explained, “The Club members really enjoyed being able to request books. It was great seeing how excited kids were getting them. It also helped us really tailor the program to meet the kid’s interest.” Some of the most popular requests included Guinness Book of World Records, Pete the Cat, and graphic novels.

Mount Vernon Club receives new HVAC units

This past summer, in the middle of a heat wave, the Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club’s aging A/C and Heating units decided to call it quits. The financial impact facing the non-profit organization serving hundreds of kids was daunting. With Summer in full swing, and with kids in programming from 7am-6pm daily, CPI Plumbing & Heating came to the rescue. CPI began work immediately to look into repairing the units, donating their time and labor.

After many attempts and hours of work it was determined that the units would have to be replaced. CPI HVAC Manager Steve Murray immediately began working on finding a solution, working with local companies to make the replacement possible. They reached out to Gensco Inc. requesting that they donate the HVAC system, and Gensco agreed to donate two new units! The installation also required a crane, and Barnhardt Cranes was able to provide the crane free of charge. On October 5th, all three came together to complete the installation. When the project was complete, CPI’s leadership and advocacy resulted in $14,514.64 of labor and equipment donated to the Boys & Girls Club.

“Our experience with CPI has been wonderful. They showed a willingness to go above and beyond what was expected to help out the Club and the kids.” said Club Director, Angela Freeberg. “We survived the heat of the summer, and are also extremely grateful to them for our nice warm Club as the days get colder!”

Burlington Club Youth Tour Police Department

Officer Josh Murdock of the Burlington Police Department visited the kids at the Burlington Boys & Girls Club for some on-the-spot fun this summer, dropping in for game of dodgeball, and recently, he took members on a VIP tour of the police station.

It’s a bit of a walk to the Burlington Police station from the Club at Maiben Park, but officer Murdock was there to help chaperone, making sure drivers slowed down, and kids could cross the streets safely. Upon arrival, officer Murdock spent some time showing the kids all of the tools on his belt, and talking about how they are used. One thing youth were surprised to learn that officer

s are exposed to pepper spray as part of their training. He also explained that the tools on his belt are there to keep him safe and other people safe, and that he has never fired his gun outside of training at the firing range. He showed how his two different sets of handcuffs work, and later, even showed how fast he can apply them. Staff Program Coordinator, Andrew Flores was soon rendered immobile, but was a good sport about the demonstration.

Officer D. Pehrson came out for a quick visit before heading out on his traffic beat. He gave a snapshot into a typical day on the force. He said that morning he had responded to a house alarm that turned out to be a false alarm, and that he found a dog and returned it to its owner.

Inside, youth met Officer Mike Lumpkin, who admitted that he was aware that his last name was a lot like Pumpkin. This got the kids laughing. He gave the out a gift of cool mood pencils to the kids. Then they visited the holding cell area, and the control room, where they saw all of the traffic cameras, and officer Murdock showed them how he could control them remotely to show a different view. Outside, officer Murdock opened up a Chevy Tahoe police cruiser and turned on the siren. At the end of the tour, he shook each member’s hand and asked what they had learned from the tour. One thing that was impressed upon the children, was that just because
someone makes a mistake, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

“It’s important for our kids to have a positive relationship with Law Enforcement. Police are here to protect and help us. Interactions like these help build trust among the kids, that they can rely on first responders should the need arise,” said Manny Smith, Director of Operations for the Clubs. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County would like to thank the Burlington Police Department for taking the time to interact with and educate Club youth.

Burlington Club visits the Fire Station

Club members enjoyed a walk to the the nearby Burlington Fire Station to learn about a day in the life of a firefighter and how they can improve on their fire safety knowledge. Burlington Fire & Safety Educator, Erica Littlewood and the group spent some time in the station’s learning center where they covered subjects such as, having a fire escape plan with your family, smoke alarms, and what to do if fire gets on you. This last interactive lesson was a favorite among the kids as Littlewood placed felt flames representing fire on a Club member volunteer, who then demonstrated her “Stop, Drop, and Roll” skills. Littlewood expressed that she was impressed with the their knowledge, saying “I appreciated this group’s thoughtful questions, comments, and answers to my questions.”

Next, youth visited the kitchen, where Firefighter Keith explained that firefighters cook and enjoy their meals together. Firefighter Brad quipped, “Not everyone here is allowed to cook.” Then youth went to the large garage where all the emergency vehicles and equipment is kept. Firefighter Eric dressed in full gear complete with an air tank, helmet and mask. “His voice voice sounds funny in there, doesn’t it,” said Firefighter Brad. “If there’s a fire and someone sounds like Darth Vader, that’s a firefighter coming to help.” Firefighter Keith explained that because of heavy smoke, a firefighter needs the air tank to breathe, and they will sometimes crawl on hands and knees to be able to see, and stay out of the thickest smoke. Kids were able to try on some of the protective equipment and discovered that it is very heavy and warm.

The visit concluded with an in-depth tour of the fire engine, and each youth got to try their skill on the fire hose. Firefighters rolled out a miniature barn with flames on top. Each Club member shot the hose, aiming to knock down the flames. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County is grateful to the Burlington Fire Department for all the service they provide the community, and for taking the time to educate and visit with our Club members.

Sedro Woolley Club Teen Aspires to Practice Law

Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County’s 2017 Youth of the Year Paula Banda has had many opportunities to share her Club story publicly, as part of her journey within the Youth of the Year Program. Part of her story includes her goals for the future—to attend Harvard and practice Immigration Law. Several local lawyers heard her speech and reached out to help with career advice. Recently, Paula and a small group of teens from the Sedro-Woolly Boys & Girls Club had a chance to meet these lawyers to learn about their practice.

Laura Riquelme, who works as public defender for Skagit County, and has recently served as a judge as well, gave Paula and a few of her friends a tour of the Skagit County courthouse. She gave the Club members an overview of the work she does, how it affects the community, and how she decided to pursue a career in law. She also shared some great insights on the difference between being a judge and being a lawyer.

Joseph Bowen was born and raised in Skagit Valley. After law school he came back to the area and eventually opened up his own law practice. He took the time to sit down with the Woolley teens and talk about motivation and determination. He detailed the journey he took from Skagit County to Harvard to law school at UW back to Skagit County and encouraged the Boys & Girls Clubs members to set their goals high.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County would like to thank everyone involved for taking the time to share their career knowledge with the Club members.