by Lisa Tome
At the North East Boys & Girls Club unit, Monopoly could also be known as the game of life.
"We've been having Monopoly tournaments. It teaches negotiation and strategy. We base it on real life. If you do bad things, you go to jail," said Pierre Banks, sports director at the club. "We make it a life lesson."
It's been a busy summer at the club. On an average day about 36 children ages 6-12 have turned out for the Summer Fun Club activities. There are also six LITs (Leaders in Training), former club members who return as leaders.
"I like helping the kids, teaching them things. But when it gets too loud and the kids get obnoxious, I calm them down," said Bryce Taylor, 14. "Being an LIT teaches you to be more responsible. I enjoyed it. I'll probably come back next year."
There was plenty to do at the club this year. Mornings consisted of free play games. This year, air hockey, Wii, and Dance, Dance, Revolution were popular according to Banks.
Outdoors, basic athletics - football and basketball occupied male club members. The females opted for dance routines and jump rope. Banks said he also tried to teach them new games and sports every week. Capture the flag taught teamwork and strategy. "We like to give everybody a chance to have fun with it. We had been playing capture the flag for years. This year, we looked up the rules," laughed Banks.
Club members also tried out dodge ball, touch rugby, lacrosse, soccer, and basketball. "Every sport has fun in it. Lacrosse was fun but a challenge. It has different rules for boys and girls," said Banks.
Manzier Galarza, 9, has been a member of the club for about five years. "I like playing football and hanging out with friends. I like doing word searches," said Galarza.
Sports weren't the only focus. Arts and crafts classes were held daily. Children made a variety of things to take home. They also created an "I Am" wall at the club. That was created as a self esteem builder where children could point out their best qualities.
Daily activities also combined learning with fun. There were health and wellness program, learning games, an anti-bullying program, and high yield learning games where students practiced math to prevent the summer slide.
Not all activities were held at the club. There were trips to the Conowingo Pool, Herr's Snack Factory, a movie theater, and the North East Police Department. The club also hosted guests, Girl Scouts, the Cecil County Library Bookmobile, a nutrition educator, and weekly chess lessons.
Emily Day, 11, was at the club for the third year. She said she enjoyed going to the movies to watch "Rio". She also said she enjoyed the weekly Girl Scout meetings.
Natalie Jones, 6, also liked being exposed to scouting. "I enjoyed the scouts. Maybe I will join. I also liked making a book poster and going to the pool. I learned how to play dodge ball. I knew before but forgot how to play," said Jones.