Being part of the community
The New Richmond Area Centre offers many summer programs for children and adults of all ages. But over the last few years, children from ages 9 to 14 have been given the chance to learn about what it means to be part of their community as well as how to stay active during the summer.
“The Youth Character Initiative is a summer camp option for 9- to 14-year olds, since they are at that age where they are a little bit too old for traditional daycare and they need something that is a little more exciting and a little bit more meaningful,” said Centre Youth, Teen and Family Manager Larissa Ruud. “That is our goal for the program, is to make the program a bit more of a meaningful experience for them during the summer as opposed to sitting at home by themselves watching TV. It is a neat way to get the kids started thinking about their community and how they fit into it as young adults and really to build that into their future.”
The program kicks off the first week after school gets out in the spring and goes until school starts up again in the fall. The program offers 12 hours of care available for children every day, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“The program itself is based around the 40 Developmental Assets,” Ruud said. “It is based on things like peaceful conflict resolution and it talks about having adult role models in your life. That is where the program is rooted, so each week there is a different asset that the groups have and they will do a couple different activities based on that asset.”
The Centre split the program into three groups divided by age. There are the Pathfinders, the 9- to 10-year-olds; the Leaders, the 11- to 12-year-olds; and the Counselors In Training (CIT) group, made up of 13- to 14-year-olds.
“The CIT group is a neat option for the kids who are older because they definitely don’t need childcare like the younger kids,” Ruud said. “That group will do some fun activities like the other groups do, but a big part of what they do is work with their counselor to plan activities for the younger kids. They will have specific times each week where they will go down there with different groups and lead the activities.”
The children participating in the program get many chances to take part in Service Learning Projects throughout the summer as part of YCI, including walking over to Westfields Hospital to pick vegetables in the community garden.
“The kids learn how that food is used in the kitchen to serve to the patients and people in the hospital,” Ruud said. “It is pretty neat for them to see the full cycle of how that works.”
According to Ruud, one of the children’s favorite projects was helping out at Five Loaves Food Shelf.
“Another cool thing all the groups, mostly the 11- to 12-year-old and 13- to 14year-old groups, get to do is help with projects at the food shelf,” Ruud said. “They will go over to the food shelf and help to organize some of the Empty Bowls from that event. This summer, they did a project where they went over to the food shelf and cleared off all the shelves so they could give them a good cleaning. Then another group came in and put all the stuff back on the shelves.”
Along with the activities the group takes part in during the week, every Friday holds an extra treat for the kids when they get to go on a field trip.
One of the most important parts of the program, according to Ruud, is giving the children a way to get involved with their community and learn what it means to be a good citizen.
“I think a big thing about the program is that it is offering something for the kids in the community that helps them stay off the couch and provide an opportunity for them to experience different things,” Ruud said. “We offer the program at a reduced price, so it is a lot cheaper than some of our other programs and we do that so it is more affordable for families. We want to get kids engaged and thinking about why they are leaders in the community and why it is important to give back.”
Although the program is offered all summer long, the Centre is very flexible and allows children to come as often as they like, whether it is three times a week, every other week or all summer long.
The Centre’s annual Super Summer Sign Up takes place in February, and that is where parents can register their children for all the summer programs the Centre has to offer without having to pay a registration fee. The registration fee is normally $50 per family. The prices for the rest of the program vary based on the age of the child.
For more information on the pricing or to ask questions, contact the Centre at 715-246-2252 or email Larissa Ruud at the Centre at email@example.com.