Summer Fun: Counselors, kids have blast at BV Community Center

Tuesday, August 2, 2016
A dozen of the Berryville Summer Youth Program participants ham it up for the camera in-between activities. The program is a daycare, of sorts, that provides a safe place for Berryville kids to stay active and have fun during the long summer vacation. (Photo by David Bell/Carroll County News)

The Berryville Community Center's summer youth program is coming to a close, but the kids and counselors are not ready to say goodbye just yet.

Ciera Foster, manager of the program this year, said this has been one of the biggest summers for the program. About 100 kids in total registered for the program, she said, and about 40 kids attended each day. Foster said she, her co-manager Zac Waller and the nine other counselors kept busy the past few months as they led the kids in various activities.

"Day to day, we do various activities in the building like kickball, dodgeball and games like that. We also do crafts and go swimming every day," Foster said.

The program has also taken the kids on field trips every Friday, she said.

"We've gone to places throughout Carroll County, such as the bowling alley and a park in Eureka Springs," Foster said. "We [went] to High Rise in Rogers on Friday, and we're going to the movies next week."

She said she has been a counselor for the program for a total of five years but this has been her first year as manager. Foster said her new position was more challenging because she was responsible for organizing events, planning activities and making sure everything stayed on schedule.

"It took a while for me to adjust to it, but I really like it," she said.

Foster said she loves working with the summer youth program because she gets to spend time with the kids and gets to know them on a personal level.

"It's really nice to get to know the kids and have them come to you and look up to you. I love getting to hang out with them for this program," she said.

Joel Brown, a recent graduate of Berryville High School, said this was his first year working as a counselor for the program. He said he wants to be a teacher and coach when he is older so he thought the experience of working with the kids in the program would be valuable.

"I wanted to see if I could handle working with younger kids," Brown said.

He said he is glad he helped with the program because of the counselors and kids he got to work with.

"This was a great group of people to work with, a great boss, great kids and a nice place," Brown said. "I'm not just saying that. I mean it."

There were new challenges involved in working with kids, he said, such as dealing with screaming children and tattletales.

"I had to deal with stuff like 'he touched me' or 'she said such and such' and little stuff like that," Brown said. "That stuff was challenging at first."

He said he will be going to Central Baptist College in Conway on a soccer scholarship in a few weeks.

"I'm hoping to get my teaching degree there and get my coaching endorsement at UCA," Brown said. "I think this experience has helped prepare me to work with kids in education."

The only ones who enjoyed participating in the program more than the counselors were the kids.

Isabelle Fletcher and Bailee Allison said their favorite part of the program was getting to swim in the pool every day.

"I like swimming because you get to play a lot in the pool," Isabelle said.

"We get to go on field trips, too. We went to Bentonville to the swimming pool," Bailee said, "and it had an outside pool that goes inside and comes back out. It was cool."

Anthony Boche said this was his third year attending the program.

"I like that we get to do all these activities and hang out with our friends," he said.

Angel Crook said he enjoys the open gym sessions the program has each week.

"My favorite part is when we play basketball," he said.

Joe Scott, Berryville's Parks and Recreation director, said the summer youth program truly makes BCC a community center.

"I think it's great that we have this program which is an affordable thing for the parents and gives kids a chance to do stuff," he said. "It's great for everyone."

Renée Allison, aquatic and program manager at the community center, said the program's flexible hours have helped parents have access to child care.

"We do full-day and half-day care," she said. "The week before, you pay for the times and days you want to do the next week."

Allison said the program has been great for the counselors as well as the younger kids because it provides first-job experience and experience working with children.

"I think every teenager needs to have that kind of experience," she said. "So many say they love working with kids when I interview them, but they may not have spent too much time with them yet. This is good for them to get some hands-on experience."

Allison continued, "I've had a really good staff this year. I've been so impressed with Ciera and Zac. They've been great leaders."

Waller is actually a former camper, she said.

"His sister is, too. They've gone from being campers to working for me as counselors," Allison said.

The summer youth program was also able to participate in new activities for the first time this year, she said, including gardening and the Berryville Library's Summer Reading Program.

"We didn't get our garden in the ground, but Lacey Powell donated the soil and seeds. We were very thankful to her for that. Donna Braziel, who works for us, came up and helped the kids plant vegetables in milk jugs," Allison said. "We are growing things. We just didn't get them in the ground."

Allison said the summer youth program will end Friday, Aug. 12, before school starts back. The program is still available to parents and kids until that time, she said. Contact the front desk at 870-423-3139 for more information or visit the community center's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sypatthebcc/.

BCC will also be doing one last movie in the park at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. Allison said they will be showing "School of Rock" and have a battle of the bands with Guitar Hero. There will also be a 65-foot inflatable obstacle course and free hot dogs and popcorn, she said.

"The Lifeline helicopter will also be there, so you can sit in it, take pictures and speak to the pilots," Allison said.

She asked that guests bring school supplies to donate to the Berryville School District if they can.

"It's not a requirement, but we would love to collect school supplies for the district if we could," Allison said. "We want everybody to come take part in our 'Back to School Bash.'"

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