AIHTI member Jacob Summer served at the Boys and Girls Club of Ellettsville, IN this term.
Since March, I have had the amazing opportunity to serve at the Boys and Girls Club in Ellettsville, Indiana. Over the past 5 months, I have met and interacted with over 200 amazing kids ranging from 6 years old to 14. I have had an absolutely wonderful experience getting to know these kids and could not be happier about my time there thus far.
I originally became acquainted with the Boys and Girls Club last October, when I started volunteering there during their afterschool program, helping with tutoring and leading active games with the kids. Then, to my great surprise and excitement, I was offered a position at the Club through Americorps. My older sister had previously been an Americorps VISTA member, so I was somewhat familiar with the Americorps program. So upon receiving an offer to continue to serve at the Club through Americorps, I was ecstatic. I had begun to fall in love with spending time with the kids at the Club, and getting to see them grow socially, academically, and physically. I very much wanted to continue to be a part of their lives, so I eagerly accepted the position of Fitness Activities Coordinator at the Boys and Girls Club.
During my first month-and-a-half, my main duty was to plan and implement a gardening program at the Club. Despite having little-to-no knowledge on the subject of gardening, I set out to construct a garden as well as plan gardening programs for the 40 or so kids who would be coming to our Club every day throughout the summer. I found that working on a garden was a great experience as I was primarily relying on the good graces of local farmers and businesses in order to get the plants in the ground. To my surprise, the entire process, despite being very time consuming and research intensive, was very enjoyable. I met many friendly and helpful people who were more than willing to offer advice as well as seeds and plant donations for our project. And the rewards that have come from this project have been numerous. Last week, we had our first Garden Party at the Club, where we served food that all came from our garden. Seeing the kids get to enjoy food that they themselves had grown and cared for, and seeing the pride in their eyes as they shared it with one another was an incredibly rewarding experience.
Throughout the summer, I have primarily served as the Active Game Coordinator for the Club’s summer camp program. Each week, I organize and lead around 12-16 active games with 40 or so kids who attend our summer camp. These activities range from dodgeball to kickball to water games to Olympic events this week. I also lead a weekly Wiffle Ball Club as well as Gardening Club twice per week over the summer. Through 9 weeks so far this summer, I have led 101 different kids in a combined 1100 hours of active games.
The experience has been truly amazing. Being able to teach kids about healthy lifestyles in fun and creative ways has been a constant joy for me this summer. It’s exhausting, but there is no other way I’d rather be spending my summer than with these amazing kids who constantly make me laugh and who make everything I do worthwhile.