Crayons, Backpacks, and Face Masks

In the wake of COVID-19, new crayons, sneakers and notebooks are not the only focus for back-to-school prep. As the uncertainty of the future lingers, families face renewed stress about what the new school year will bring.  

At Grenville Baker, we are ready to help, and understand that we have an important role to play in both helping kids thrive and ensuring that families can access the affordable and nurturing after-school care they will need to be able to go to work with peace of mind. Moreover, both parents and children are yearning for a place to rebuild social connections and recoup lost academic ground. 

As we approach September, Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club will continue to work in concert with our schools, adjusting, and adapting to provide a safe place for our kids to go when school is out.  Our goal is not only to complement what school provides, but also safely enrich and advance kids’ learning experiences… plus ensure they have some fun along the way!  

Our doors will open on September 14th, and we can’t wait to welcome the kids back! With our construction project progressing, we expect to be in our renovated Clubhouse in early 2021. For the fall, we will continue to operate from the Bayville Recreation Center, Locust Valley Reformed Church, and St. Patrick’s Church.  

Please be on the lookout for our Fall Program Guide on our website for updated schedules and detailed safety protocols. You will notice that while our schedule may change, our commitment to our kids and our community remain steadfast.  

 

An Alum’s “Tern” to Teach

Taking a break after a nature scavenger hunt.

When Club Alum and Nassau County Supreme Court Judge David (Dave) Gugerty was about 8 years old, Grenville Baker had a challenge for the kids in the community: Clean it up!

In the days before curbside recycling programs, local residents and organizations helped keep the community clean with recycling drives. To incentivize the kids, the Club developed a tiered set of prizes — the most coveted of which was a Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club jacket.

That’s all Dave and his brother, Paul, needed to hear, and they were off to uncover every stray can and bottle in the neighborhood.  Encouraged by their father, Leo, the brothers literally “dove” into their project… into bushes and garbage cans. Together, Dave and Paul were able to fill their family’s white Chevy station wagon to the top, and before long,  were on their way home in matching Club jackets. (While their parents likely went out to get the car washed!)

Dave looks back at that experience as setting the stage for what has become a life-long passion and interest: our local environment. While he is an attorney and judge by profession, Dave has dedicated years to preserving our local lands during his free time, including serving seven years on the Bayville Environmental Conservation Commission.

Zooming in to observe Osprey baby chicks.

Notably, his dedication to caring for his local community doesn’t stop there. As a Grenville Baker Club kid himself, Dave understands how experiences through the Boys & Girls Club can shape lives! And so he continues to pay it forward as a volunteer.

In fact, in late July, Dave volunteered his time to help our campers explore and discover the wonders of nature right in our own backyard. For our youngest campers, he led a nature walk down to the Long Island Sound for a scavenger hunt along the shoreline. Later in the week, he met with our older campers at Stehli’s beach to teach about and guide the kids in observing local birds, such as osprey and terns. While he explained the efforts being made to protect these wildlife and their habitat, the kids enjoyed using a scope to zoom in on the osprey nest with three baby chicks.

This week, Dave is coming back to camp, leading visits to the Lattingtown Preserve and Lagoon, as well as the Coffin Woods Preserve in Locust Valley.

We thank Dave for his time and passion to teach our kids the importance of conservation and appreciation for our animal friends!

We are always looking for ways to enrich the learning experiences of our kids. If you have expertise you wish to share or would like to volunteer in another way, please contact Saskia.Thomson@gbbgc.org.

Crayons, Backpacks, and Masks.

For families of young children, August has traditionally been a time for back to school shopping while savoring the last weeks of summer in anticipation of the first day of school. In our community, and indeed across the country, this year is different. In the wake of COVID-19, new crayons, sneakers and notebooks are not the focus. Instead, the next few weeks are fraught with questions and concerns about what the approaching school year will look like. Decisions are being made by local schools that will have both immediate and long-term impact on our kids and their families. 

Since the shutdown in March, many working families are desperately looking for help as they seek to find an impossible balance between the demands of the workplace and the needs of their children. And while many youngsters have been negatively impacted by the prolonged closure of schools, those from low income households have faced the biggest challenges. The stopgap measure of remote learning can’t fill the gap for most kids, but especially for poorer students who face barriers such as limited computer use, poor wifi and internet access. 

At Grenville Baker, we are ready to help. We understand that we have an important role to play in our area’s recovery. As a first step, in preparation for the fall, we have met with our local schools and have learned that plans are being made that call for both flexibility and preparation. There are various scenarios of what school will look like including a combination of in school and remote learning with staggered in school schedules for students. The challenge for the schools and our Club is to be ready to respond in real time to living with a pandemic without a crystal ball.  

As we approach September, we will continue to work in concert with our schools, adjusting and adapting to provide a safe place for our kids to go when school is out. We will make it possible for working families to return to work by providing a safety net of affordable care. Our schedule may change, but our role will not. Going forward, students will need the extra support we can provide both academically and emotionally. Children who struggle in school will need extra assistance so as not to lose ground permanently.  

With our construction project progressing, we expect to be in our renovated Clubhouse in early 2021. For the fall, we will secure the use of our off-site locations at the Bayville Recreation Center, Locust Valley Reformed Church, and St. Patrick’s Church. We anticipate challenges with staffing and execution, but our veteran program staff is pulling together to find a workable solution. We will institute measures that safeguard everyone including wearing face masks and gloves, disinfecting all furnishings and equipment, social distancing in all play and study areas, prohibiting the sharing of food or other items, staggered arrival and dismissal times, and increased use of hand washing stations. 

The COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath will once again require our Club to adjust and to adapt to ensure that we are here to serve our community and our children. With your support, we are confident that we can meet this challenge, not just because of our history, but because of the people who make up Grenville Baker.