BGCA has recently been blessed with a BUNCH of new talent, and I can’t wait to bring all their voices to the ClubX Blog! Today we are hearing about a new BGCA platform that will knock your socks off from Director of Program Innovation Kevina Fullwood.
Virtual Programming, been there done that. During the pandemic we all learned creative ways to use programming. For some the return to the “New Normal” means the loss or reduction of virtual programming. Well, we are here to show you how virtual programming is still a needed asset and how you can truly incorporate it into your daily schedule!
BGCA National Virtual Club amplifies the voices and work of Clubs across the Movement. With BGCA National Virtual Club, youth and staff can view live and on-demand activity sessions delivered by Club and Youth Center staff from across the Movement. It features content from STEM, Education, Gaming, Arts, Cooking and more. Check it out yourself! You can access it online or by downloading the app, available in the Apple and Google Play stores and on Roku and Fire TV.
You might be asking yourself why we need BGCA’s National Virtual Club if we have MyFuture? Glad you asked! While MyFuture has similar features, the primary audience for MyFuture is youth. On MyFuture youth can complete skill building activities, earn certifications, share creative projects, and participate in events and contests. Youth also earn recognition like badges to keep track of their progress.
The audience for Virtual Club is BOTH staff and youth. It has higher streaming and live interaction capabilities than MyFuture, and multiple live sessions can be hosted simultaneously on Virtual Club. Club staff and partners can interact with members no matter where they are in the Movement, and the platform can also host a significantly larger amount of on-demand content. It is the YouTube of the Boys & Girls Club! This chart highlights the main features of both:
Why is this distinction important? We all know the series of unfortunate events that can happen in Clubs and Youth Centers. We can have a whole session planned and then the staff lead calls out. Now the basketball coach is stuck leading a photography session! With the National Virtual Club, you can access specific on-demand content led by Boys & Girls staff. Another key point is that we are not always able to take the time to plan programming the way we want and do not always have the resources or manpower to deliver the wide variety of programming that the young people we serve may desire. The continuously updated content on BGCA’s National Virtual Club extends programming opportunities without the need for additional staff.
Imagine this, you can use a Roku or FireTV stick attached to any Club TV to deliver programming directly to your youth, who can participate and create whatever is being taught in the lesson. One example is a Instant Coffee Art Project from Amy at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties. In this 7 minute video, Amy shows how to use instant coffee to create a beautiful landscape painting, going over several artistic techniques and principles, including color blending and values. What a creative idea! After watching the video, youth can create their own landscape paintings in your Club space, or you can assign sessions for youth to watch at home on their smartphones, tablets, or tv. This gives you and your members the ability to take the Club home!
Once logged in to BGCA National Virtual Club, you have access to a wide variety of content. You can favorite and share videos that you find most interesting and want to come back to. They vary in length, from 5-10 minutes for most, with some such as the Lionheart Fitness videos closer to 30 minutes. Before you know it you’ve created one to two hours worth of programming for the day!
We know that staff are the secret sauce to the Boys & Girls Clubs recipe. Members show up because of the positive and supportive adult relationships that exist at their Club. It’s the same virtually! You can “meet” the Boys & Girls Club staff on Virtual Club on the Instructors page. On the Live Calendar you can see which instructors are presenting that week and add them to your own calendars so you never miss your favs.
Here are some tips for getting your staff and members signed up for Virtual Club and engaged during Club time or at home:
- Members under 13 will need a parent or guardian email address to sign up for their own accounts, so consider creating a flyer to send home with this info.
- Staff can watch on-demand content with youth on a TV screen through Roku or Fire TV apps and then move to MyFuture to participate in more activities that continue the virtual engagement.
- Staff can suggest videos for members at home to add to what they are already learning and participating in in the Club.
- Short on time and staff? Download the videos that you need to your cellphone.
And the best news of all, because we want to keep members walking through those Blue Doors, non-Club members have free access to BGCA’s National Virtual Club as well! This will allow any young person and their family to become familiar with Boys & Girls Clubs. Non-Club members who register for accounts will be directed to their local Boys & Girls Club for more information. PLUS adult staff at other youth-serving organizations can also create accounts and use National Virtual Club videos! Boys & Girls Clubs have the best youth development professionals in the country, and we are so excited to share our greatness.
Want to stay up to date on the latest from National Virtual Club and all of the BGCA Youth Development platforms? Follow us on BGCATapIn on Instagram! We announce all MyFuture contests there and will also be featuring some content from BGCA’s National Virtual Club. Club staff can also follow us on Facebook for new resources, training opportunities, and other YD news. BGCA’s Digital Delivery Team is constantly refining and innovating the digital resources we create to support staff in delivering high-quality programming and meeting youth where they are. For more information about our digital platforms email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How have you used BGCA’s National Virtual Club or MyFuture with your members? What are your best ideas for virtual programming? Let us know! Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org.
About Kevina Fullwood