Youth Clubs of Park County offers free programs to start summer

Posted 5/20/21

Last year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Youth Clubs of Park County were closed for three months, into part of the summer. This year will be different.

In February, the Park County …

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Youth Clubs of Park County offers free programs to start summer

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Last year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Youth Clubs of Park County were closed for three months, into part of the summer. This year will be different.

In February, the Park County Commission passed along $17,675 worth of CARES Act funding to the nonprofit to offset some of the financial losses the local nonprofit suffered last year. Executive Director Tina Bernard told commissioners the Youth Clubs would use the money to temporarily waive all membership fees again this year.

Now that school is nearly out, the Powell and Cody clubs are making good on that promise, Bernard said. Usually, the dues are $75 per month, per child. But until the funding runs out, those dues are being waived.

The Powell club is open from 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Students from age 5 through seniors in high school are welcome to attend — and that attendance can be all day every day or split in a number of ways. For example, if a child is in the area spending time with family, they are welcome to come spend some of that time at the Youth Club. If a student only needs to be busy a few days a week, or only a few hours a day, either of those situations can be accommodated, according to Tiffany Wutzke, director of programming and training for the clubs.

“They can come for two weeks, a month, whatever they need,” she said.

The days will follow a loose structure, with students separated by age groups. Each day the clubs open at the same time, 7:45 a.m., and kids enjoy free time until 10, with a morning snack at about 9 a.m.

Then they travel through various rotations, including arts, games, gym time and playground time. Lunch follows morning rotations, and is followed by more rotations or a movie on Mondays. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons may see kids going to the park or playground, and there is a club service on Thursday morning. Wednesdays involve a trip to the Powell Aquatic Center and Friday features various field trips.

Swimming and the field trips may come with a fee, but if a club attendee does not want to go on those trips, they can remain at the club, free of charge.

“We’ll always have staff here,” Wutzke said. 

For the most part, students should try to wear tennis shoes rather than flip flops or sandals, and they will need a helmet if they ride a bike or intend to use the skate park. And of course, if they intend to swim, a swim suit will be required. 

This year, the club has partnered with Northwest College to provide certified teachers and paraprofessionals to implement a STEM program in June. Students in third, fourth and fifth grades will work with the teachers on science, technology, engineering and math.

“They definitely don’t have as big a summer learning loss when they keep their minds engaged in the summer,” Wutzke said. “The structure helps, but we have so much fun. We keep busy and it goes by so fast.

“It’s organized chaos,” she laughed. 

Meals at the club are provided through an arrangement with Park County School District 6 in Cody. The meals are prepared there, then brought to Powell. Those fare may consist of a lunch wrap, sandwich, or pizza. There are also fresh fruits and vegetables and milk. If a child doesn’t want school-type lunches, they may bring a sack lunch instead.

Enrollment in the summer programs at the Youth Clubs of Park County is ongoing now. The regular staff at each facility will be augmented by seven summer staffers and should the enrollment warrant it, more staff will be added to maintain a safe student-staff ratio. Although masks are no longer mandated, the clubs continue to stress hand washing and are thoroughly sanitizing surfaces in the facilities.

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