Paul Martinez, President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida
For young people, summer is simply a break from school; it’s an opportunity to spend time with friends, catch up on sleep and have fun, often without a care in the world. However, just as rest and fun are important, providing young people with enriching learning experiences during their summer vacation is essential for their development and helps them stay productive and out of trouble.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, a United Way partner, offer summer camps that provide young people with the daily excitement they crave through entertaining and educational programs, inspiring youth to build their own great futures.
Our summer programs operate for six weeks, kicking off each day with breakfast and project-based learning where our members build their literacy skills and explore different educational topics – all under the watchful eye of our Boys & Girls Clubs staff who help them feel welcome and safe in a place where they truly belong.
What truly makes our summer programs unique is our partnerships with other local organizations that provide our young people with exceptional opportunities to learn. For example, in summer 2019, select Beaches Boys & Girls Clubs members enjoyed a six-week program where they learned the fundamentals of golf. Through a partnership with Jacksonville Beach Golf Association, students visited UNF’s Golf Complex twice a week to learn the basics such as, how to grip a golf club and work their swing and putting skills. At the end of the program, students received a shopping spree at the PGA store, a certificate of completion, a set of golf clubs, clothing and a party at Topgolf Jacksonville. Thomas Bozzuto, Jacksonville Beach Golf Association’s executive director, hopes students develop a love for the sport and use etiquette they learned from the game of golf in their professional and academic life. In addition, the Bolles Sharks swim team and City of Jacksonville provided 320 Club members six swimming lessons throughout summer 2019. These swimming lessons allowed our students to have fun at the pool during, while developing a lifelong love of swimming and water safety.
Another exciting aspect of Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida summer camps is how we help our Club members explore new environments where they can unlock different opportunities to reach for their full potential. Camp Deep Pond is our 62-acre property in Hilliard, Florida where our Clubs visit to enjoy a pristine outdoor setting where they can ride bicycles; kayak and swim in our 12-acre lake; learn to shoot arrows with certified instructors; learn about Florida wildlife with teachers and roast marshmallows with friends. Camp Deep Pond is a life-changing camp experience, providing unique learning experiences while allowing our kids to have the fun and excitement they expect during the summer.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida is the place to be during the summer and throughout the school year. Don’t miss out – enrollment for the academic year is open now.
With the support of United Way, agencies like Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida are able to help individuals in Northeast Florida have hope and reach their full potential. Through the power of partnerships, we advocate for initiatives that provide children the resources they need to succeed in school, ensuring equitable education opportunities and promoting lifelong learning. To learn how you can join United Way in the fight for community change, visit unitedwaynefl.org/get-involved.