Summer Youth Program: BVCC program makes education exciting

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Students in the Berryville Community Center’s Summer Youth Program work in the center’s Giving Garden each morning, helping pick vegetables and learning about gardening.
Photo by Tavi Ellis/Carroll County News

The Berryville Community Center’s summer youth program allows children to have fun while they learn.

Program manager Ciera Foster said she really enjoys bonding with the kids throughout the summer.

“I think really getting to know the kids is an awesome part about this program and being able to see them out and about,” Foster said.

Co-manager Zachary Waller said he loves seeing the kids learn through the various activities the program offers, especially the science experiments.

“Some of these kids have been here ever since I’ve been here,” he said, “so watching them grow throughout life and learn new things through the different activities we do has been great to watch.”

Foster has worked for the summer youth program for six years and served as a manager for two years. Waller has worked for the summer youth program for five years. He said this is his second year as a manager.

Foster said the counselors make it easy for the managers to do their jobs.

“We could not do this without them, and we love them for that,” she said.

Renée Allison, aquatic and program manager at the community center, said the program is so much fun for the kids and keeps them active during the summer.

She said the kids go out to the Giving Garden every morning.

“They pick the crops, and they look at the bugs and get to have some garden experience,” she said.

Allison said the kids have even made pickles from cucumbers out of the garden, as well as several different green bean recipes.

The kids also play different outside games and run on the soccer field, she said.

She said breakfast and lunch are both provided at no charge for the parents.

“The meals are provided through the Senior Center. Carla Mann is the director, and she has that connection through her agency to provide breakfast and lunch,” Allison said.

The program offers affordable, flexible childcare for parents, she said.

“We let you choose if you’re coming part time, or full time or half days. It’s not like you have to pay for all of it even if you’re not going to be here. That’s not our system,” she said.

Allison said the staff tries to plan out the next week for the kids on Wednesdays.

“We have a schedule that the parents can take home so that way they know week-to-week what they are doing during the day,” she said. “They do crafts some days, they do experiments, they do cooking projects.”

She said the kids swim four days a week.

“Monday through Wednesday, they are here at [the community center’s pool], and on Thursdays they go to the city pool,” Allison said. “On Fridays, the kids take a field trip.”

She said the field trips are local. She said the summer youth program has also had guest speakers.

“Carroll Electric has come. We had someone bring in their guide dog, so she talked to the kids about what the purpose of the dog was for and why people have them,” Allison said. “That was really sweet.”

She said the kids have also been very involved in the Summer Reading Program at the Berryville Library.

“The librarians have been wonderful. [Library director] Julie Hall sends a mobile library here every Tuesday so our kids can get books,” Allison said, “At quiet time, they read so they can keep up with the prizes that the summer program offers.”

She said she loves seeing the kids’ smiling faces at the summer youth program.

“You go out into the gym and you hear ‘Mrs. Renee,’ and it’s always sweet to know that they are having a good time,” Allison said.

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