The Art of Holiday Shopping

For many of us, the Thanksgiving weekend marks the beginning of holiday shopping season.  Indeed, the bargains begin before the last piece of pie is served! This year, we hope that you will keep the Club and our kids in mind as the holiday spirit takes hold. Here are a few ways to give back while getting a great deal. 

For something utterly unique, consider a hand-crafted gift made by one of our Club kids. During this season of giving and celebration, our tweens are reminding us how blessed we are here in Locust Valley through their Torch Club Holiday Art Sale. 

Shop the Art Sale. Help Make the Holidays Merry & Bright

Through Torch Club, our leadership and community outreach program for children in grades 6-8, our kids have developed a strong sense of appreciation for and a desire to give thanks for their families and their Club. Indeed, at a young age, they are learning to plan and participate in worthwhile community service projects. This holiday season they are lending their artistic talents and organizing an Art Sale to raise funds for children in need.

CLICK HERE to view their beautiful artwork and to purchase a treasure for a loved one, helping a child at the holidays. 

If you’re an Amazon shopper, please consider signing up for the Amazon Smile program, which donates .5% of your purchases to the charity of your choice at no cost to you. To sign up, visit smile.amazon.com and follow the simple instructions to choose “Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club” as your beneficiary

Likewise, if you find yourself at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, we are delighted to share that Neiman Marcus is once again supporting the Club with a second national holiday fundraiser that will run through December 31, 2020. Specifically, Neiman Marcus customers can donate to Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club while checking out in the store and online

The Trick to a Halloween Treat!

There are few things that children look forward to more than a day dedicated to candycostumes, and spooky storiesThis year, to ensure safety, our creative staff and Keystone teens transformed our customary Spook Alley event into a haunted house on wheels, which traveled to each of our afterschool sites on October 30th.  

Leading up to the event, our Keystone Club teens decorated a Grenville Baker bus in various Halloween motifs and stuffed individual trick-or-treat goodbags for the children in our afterschool programChildren boarded the Haunted Bus one at a time to collect their treats. The trick, of course, was that a friendly-spirited “scare” awaited our candy gatherers as masked teens jumped out from behind the seats. Children exited the bus, treats in hand, to be greeted by Michelle Gallucci, our Bayville Site director, who was dressed up as a T-Rex 

To round out the afternoon, we organized games and activities, including pumpkin design contestscookie decorating, and a costume competition. Prizes went to Best Costume, Most Original, Funniest, and Scariest. G.Willikers of Locust Valley generously donated $10 gift cards to all of the winners!  

Other supporters of this wonderful event included the Changemakers Interfaith Groupa group of students from Syosset High Schoolthat donated Halloween goody bags to the kids at LV Reformed Church and Lou Brienza of Dunkin’ in Bethpage, who donated doughnuts and Munchkins for the kids to enjoy. 

The day was frightfully fun!  

Out of the City and Out to Sea – Teens Learn to Fish

Part of the joy of being a teenager is that one’s sense of growing curiosity starts to align with one’s ability to be more independent. At the Club, we recognize that as young people move toward adulthood, they benefit from new experiences that help them develop skills, confidence, and autonomy.  

One program that focuses on broadening the horizons for youth is our “City Club.” In past years, our Teen Director Stephanie Urio has led trips to New York City once a month to allow teens to see and experience museums, theater, historical sites, and cultural events, many for the first time. Each adventure is designed to offer teens a glimpse of the bigger world and all it has to offer them. Ultimately, the trips inspire them to dream of a career or develop a new passion or creative interest.  

With the onset of COVID 19, we had to rethink our program. Knowing that this has been a difficult time for our teens, with many of the rites of passage for this group altered or completely cancelled, our staff did not want to give up on our wonderful City Club program. Instead, Stephanie took the initiative to adjust and to adapt to the challenges of 2020. So instead of City Club trips, this fall, the members will be participating in our “Out of City” Club trips on a monthly basis – focusing on all Long Island has to offer. 

Learning to fish is fun and builds confidence.

The first “Out of City” Club outing was a fishing trip out of Captree State Park. Fighting their preference for sleeping late on a Saturday, eight teens rose with the sun on September 8th to board a boat on the south shore and go fishing! For many of our members, this was their first experience fishingOur staff and the crew showed the kids how to bait their hooks and how to cast… and encourage the kids to have patienceIt was a beautiful day out on the water and the kids started a friendly competition to see who could catch the most fish. Senior Joe Valli’s patience paid off with the winning tally of five.

While it doesn’t look like any of the members will become fishermen, they were thankful for the opportunity to try something new and experience a Long Island tradition! 

Interactive ‘FUN’-damentals

Experiential learning is just more fun! With some of our area schools operating in hybrid or modified formats, many children are spending significant time trying to learn sitting at a computer screen in a remote environment. At the Club, we know that “Zoom Time” can turn into “Zoned Out” time, so we are taking every opportunity to give kids the chance to benefit from in-person and interactive learning experiences at our after-school programs 

Where Math & Measuring Meets Cooking Fun!

 

Every Wednesday, our members have the chance to join in on our famous “Kids in the Kitchen” program, where they learn basic measurements

skills while learning about dry and wet ingredients. (Just like parents sneak vegetables into chicken nuggets… we sneak in a little mathematics into our cooking fun)The kids were delighted with the first project of the season: making Rice Krispies treats with a spooky twist for Halloween.  

Sometimes combining games and learning can be just the ticket: the sense of a little competition makes learning more fun. For kids in Kindergarten through Second grade, our K-5 Youth Development Director Carlos Pumar added a little competitive spirit for completing math worksheets. All the kids who correctly completed their math worksheets earned three tickets to “spend” at our “recognition store,” where kids can trade in tickets for novelty prizes and gamesKids with incorrect answers were given the extra help they needed to learn the concepts and get their tickets, too. 

Whether its math or reading, the Club always finds a way to connect with kids and make learning fun. 

Efficacy & Efficiency: Ensuring the Safety and Impact of our Programs

At Grenville Baker, we are ready to help kids kick off the school year in a safe and productive way!  This Monday the 14th, we opened our doors to 130 kids across our three off-site locations (while our renovations continue).

Knowing that hybrid and remote learning creates new challenges, all of our staff are focused on ensuring that kids stay on track to do well in school and realize their full potential. Each day after school, the kids enjoy a snack (prepared at home for safety), and then spend an hour (Power Hour) focused on homework. This routine teaches kids to prioritize their responsibilities and gives them a sense of consistency — which is dearly needed when every other aspect of life seems uncertain.

To keep kids healthy, we have modified and added safety protocols according to CDC guidelines to all our program spaces. These measure include:

  • All members and staff wearing facial coverings when in our facilities
  • Daily health screenings, including temperature checks
  • Promoting social distancing through redesigned spaces and visual cues
  • Keeping groups small and static, so that children can participate in programs in their “home base”
  • Frequent sanitation and disinfecting in our facilities
  • Teaching and encouraging consistent hand hygiene
  • Reducing access to parents and other adults inside our facilities

In this “new normal,” we understand that by keeping kids healthy, we can continue to welcome them into the Club to benefit from our mentorship, social connections, and engaging activities…not to mention the fun and games when the hard work of homework is completed!

At Grenville Baker, we understand how important it is for kids to feel like kids, and we are dedicated to preserving the joy of childhood through these difficult times.

 

Engagement and Exploration: Developing Young Minds in our New Normal

Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club is committed to providing children of all ages with activities that keep them engaged and learning.  With programs like “Art with Amanda” and “Science with Seth,” children have a place where they can share a sense of wonder and excitement, as they embark on life’s journey.

Making Slime in our “outdoor lab.”

This summer, our camp experience took kids on adventures big and small…from painting flower pots, to playing games, to making slime, our youngest kids explored their creativity and curiosity.

For our elementary and upper elementary school children, we also provided opportunities to discover our surrounding area, thanks to a series of nature excursions with volunteer Hon. Dave Gurgerty,

The teens also did their bit of exploring, capping off the summer with a bicycling adventure to Block Island, a destination that is rich in both natural beauty and history.

Indeed, on a beautiful summer day, the teens rose early to head out to Montauk to take the ferry to Block Island. When they unloaded their bikes, they headed to town for lunch overlooking the harbor, and then set out for a ride to explore the Mohegan Bluffs and enjoy a spectacular view of the lighthouse. Afterwards, they ventured down to the beach to relax and cool off in the ocean.  The day closed with the quintessential summer experience: ice cream!  On the way back to the Club (and before they all fell asleep) the kids reflected on what felt like a “normal” day of adventure…a huge accomplishment in the age of COVID-19.

After a series of uphill rides, the kids enjoyed the trip downhill to the beach!

We are so proud to have given our Club kids a FUN summer memory! As we head into the fall, the Club will maintain its commitment to finding new and creative ways to keep kids engaged and exploring, while keeping them safe.

Promoting Emotional Wellness Through a Sense of Belonging

While we know that children are resilient, even the most optimistic child needs a boost at this time as we seek to find a silver lining to hang onto. At Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club, we work to provide that boost to our children and their families.

Our focus on emotional wellness starts with the simple belief that everyone, no matter their age, wants to feel a sense of belonging. Indeed, we all want to feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and to connect with people who care. At the Club, we let our children know they are valued members of our community. We give children who are experiencing stress and anxiety a source of emotional well-being, letting them know that they are not alone and that we are going through this together. We provide mentorship, guidance, and opportunities for kids to develop meaningful connections.

Just as important, we remind our kids how important it is to have fun! To keep doing the simple things they love like running and playing, being creative, and laughing with friends. It is certainly natural to feel sad and disappointed at the changes to basic routines, about events and activities that have been cancelled or postponed, and about loved ones who may not be well. But it is also okay to be happy and to enjoy each day. At Grenville Baker we provide a safe place for kids to have fun and we let them know each day how happy we are to see them. In this way, we are working to create a new normal.

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.