Boys & Girls Club in Steamboat adjusts to challenges, looks forward to new space
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Kelly Landers was surrounded by the sounds of construction workers cleaning up at the end of the day mixed with the sounds of children playing video games as she talked about the challenges and changes the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs has seen this year.
“COVID was hard on everyone, but the club got through it, and the kids showed amazing resiliency,” said Landers, who serves as the club’s development director. “Everyone did the best they could, and hopefully next year, everyone goes to school.”
On this day, Landers was leading a tour of the renovation work being done at the club, which is located in the Steamboat Springs School District’s administrative building on Seventh Street. The historic building is shared by the district’s administrative staff, Yampa Valley High School and the Boys & Girls Club.
The building is in the middle of a $1.5 million upgrade made possible by the passage of a bond issue in 2019. The renovation includes improving and separating the space used by Yampa Valley High School and the Boys & Girls Club, upgrading restrooms and adding a security vestibule.
The club welcomes the renovations, which will give members a larger space, including a new wing that will house a new entrance as well as a new art room with a kitchen that will allow the club to offer culinary arts.
There will also be a room added for STEAM programs and new offices for staff. The gym is getting a face-lift, and the old stage area is being renovated to create additional space for programming.
The project is slated to be completed in time for the summer programs to begin in June and is a welcome change in a year filled with challenges brought on by COVID-19.
“When COVID first hit, the clubs (in Steamboat and Craig) were closed,” Landers said. “During that time, we checked in with approximately 400 families, just on their welfare and to see if they needed any assistance from the club.”
The staff also hosted virtual Boys & Girls Club sessions every day to keep members engaged and connected. In addition, the club hosted family challenges, with between 30 and 40 families participating. The club remained virtual until it was able to reopen in late June.
“When we reopened the club, we knew it had to be different,” Landers said. “We went to a registration program, because we knew we had to limit the number of kids that were here, and the programming switched to more all-day programming rather than just dropping off your child whenever you want, which is the best model for Boys & Girls Club.”
Landers said the program reopened with just 15 children and then expanded to 45 for the summer. When the 2020-21 school year began, the need for the Boys & Girls Club was greater than ever, because of the students’ hybrid schedule, and so for the first time, the club shifted to an all-day schedule Monday through Friday.
“Because the kids weren’t at school, we felt like we had to be open for our families, for their children,” Landers said.
“In the past, the kids got to choose what room they would go to, and they were always with different kids,” Landers said. “Now they’re more with their same group, but it’s a smaller group.”
She said the smaller staff-to-child ratio has been a huge positive.
“We’ll probably continue to try to staff with the smaller groups, because we noticed that behavior problems just dropped completely when we went to those smaller groups,” Landers aid.
Landers said there are still a few openings for summer programs at the Boys & Girls Club in Steamboat. Parents will need to preregister children for the programs, but they can pick and choose which summer sessions their children attend.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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