Summer's in full swing at the Boys and Girls Club of Transylvania County, with more than 250 children registered in the club's Summer Program. Daily attendance at the main clubhouse in Brevard averages nearly 160 and that is keeping the 27 full- and part-time staffers hustling to keep the kids busy from morning to late afternoon every weekday.
Many of the activities in the eight-week program are in and around the organization's 25,000-square-foot clubhouse modern building. Inside there, the facilities include classrooms, a game room, an art room, computers and a full-size gymnasium. Outside, there are playing fields and even a vegetable garden.
But field trips are also a big part of the Summer Program. The children, who range from 5 to 16, go on an array of junkets, from fishing in Connestee Falls, a nearby mountaintop residential development with four lakes, to slipping down Sliding Rock waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest and taking in movies at the local Co-Ed Cinema.
Sometimes on those field trips, getting there is all the fun.
For instance, this year the Club partnered with a non-profit regional bicycling program, Trips for Kids, in which eight of its Summer Program youngsters are learning the fine points of cycling. Each Thursday they climb onto bikes and journey to different places. Sometimes they take off from the clubhouse, sometimes they and their bikes are driven to distant places to bicycle on such things as forest trails and suburban pathways.
Trips for Kids lends them the bikes, helmets and expert guidance. Each child participates through a Trips "scholarship" paid for by private donations and a contribution from the Club.
As part of that activity, Sycamore Cycles, a Pisgah Forest bicycle business, sponsored two scholarships and is donating used bikes from its Kids' Bikes Buyback Program. In that, Sycamore discounts a new child's bike when a customer turns in an old one that was purchased there. Sycamore refurbishes those old bikes and any others that come in as plain donations and gives them to Trips for Kids. Some of those local bikes will make up a permanent fleet for the Boys & Girls Club.
The Summer Program days start at 8 a.m. and run to 5:30 each afternoon. The children receive breakfast and lunch, provided by the county school system's Summer Feeding Program. Nearly 11,000 meals will be served before the club's Summer Program ends July 31.