I have a soft spot in my heart for small Clubs, which is why I am SO THANKFUL that I met Breeana Gonzales, Unit Director at the Laughlin Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River. Her small Club is doing BIG things in Nevada! Read on to learn how they make it work.
First, tell me a bit about your Club!
The Boys and Girls Club of the Colorado River: Laughlin Unit (such a long name, I know) is a SMALL club, located in a SMALL town (Laughlin, Nevada). We have an average daily attendance of 24! During our after school session, we serve ages 5-17 from 2pm – 6pm. (Here’s the most recent video for our club! It’s just us enjoying one of our many park days.)
What do you see as the benefits of working at a smaller Club? What are the more difficult aspects?
A common misconception: “small club=small thoughts”, in reality…
We really get the chance to create a personal club experience. Our staff are able to do more in depth lessons, focus of individuals and (for the most part) aren’t overwhelmed. When you work at a small club, you’re able to fine-tune staff skills.
Of course, everything isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Having only 24 kids means we don’t split the group up into grades because the groups would be too small/disproportionate. Programming can sometimes be a challenge for staff because they have to keep different levels of members engaged for our whole program hour.
You told me that you “make it work with what you have.” What does this mean and what are some examples?
This means that you must be willing to adapt in every way that is possible. Don’t have blue construction paper? Have them color white paper blue. Don’t have the right amount of worksheets? Everyone pair up! Only have flat balls? Have members create a new game using flat balls! There are so many variations to games, art projects and STEAM activities… anything is possible.
Our club applies this “work with what you have” attitude through programming, decorations and just about anything else. (LIKE OUR EXTREMELY AMAZING BLUE DOOR CONTEST ENTRY!! We used a donated blue paper, scrap construction paper and made our own letters!)
You place an emphasis on STEAM programming. What does this look like and why do you do it?
It looks like this:
And definitely a planning process like this!
My staff are always told “If you’re not having fun, neither are the members.” I put emphasis on STEAM projects because our members genuinely enjoy it AND they learn about what our future will be!
If you could give someone who works at a small Club three pieces of advice what would they be?
- Size is really just a number! You can still accomplish greatness and make a big impact on young people’s lives.
- Change your surroundings as much as possible. Because we live in such a small town, our members deal with THE SAME bunch of people a lot. We try to do lessons in a different room everyday. Doing this really made our members feel not so cooped up and get out of a routine for a little!
- KEEP YOUR STAFF BUSY! As Tiffany Boley said in a previous Club Story: “If you’re not MOVING or being MOBILE, you’re not MONITORING, MENTORING, or MAKING A DIFFERENCE.” I constantly remind my staff that they must set an example, as that is the only way to lead!
Breeana has been in the Movement for 3ish years! In her spare time she adds to her collection of concert tickets and eats a lot of pasta.