This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Native American communities working together to serve youth. There are currently more than 200 clubs on Native American lands, and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Lehi Branch, located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
On average, 75 to 100 kids take part at the Lehi Branch of the Boys & Girls Club, where they focus on five core programs: education and career development; character and leadership development; health and life skills; the arts; and sports, fitness and recreation. Activities also include the additional services through the Boys & Girls Club’s Family PLUS (Parents Leading, Uniting, Serving) program.
Lehi Branch Supervisor Tamara Delmar said the Boys & Girls Club is supervised by youth-development professionals who undergo online leadership training as well as in-person training that stresses the importance of what takes place at the facility and what the programs are all about.
“[The national headquarters office] produced a document called ‘The Formula for Impact,’” Delmar said. “So essentially, as a youth-development professional, my role is to provide a safe, fun place for kids, but also to make sure that [from the time] they enter the club at 6 years old and exit at 18, we are retaining them—and through that whole spectrum of being a club member, we are producing a kid that can graduate from high school and possibly pursue a vocational education or higher education.”
Delmar said the club’s “power hour,” homework assistance and career launch services, as well as fun and different educational programs, help achieve that goal. The staff members also want kids to walk out of the club exhibiting healthy eating habits, good character and leadership, well-developed life skills, and the knowledge to release aggression in healthy ways. Learning to manage money, get physically fit and demonstrate great character so they can give back to the Community helps them become secure in the knowledge of who they are and what role they have within the Community.
“Once they get to that point and they look back at their involvement with the Boys & Girls Club, they look back at everything they have done with the club and realize all the different opportunities that have been awarded to them, they are able to see what the club has done for them,” Delmar said.
Because the Lehi Branch is a Native American club, the programs are tailored to fit the Community. Presenters and speakers knowledgeable about the tribes share information with the kids. Delmar said it is a blessing to have a unique club made up of different tribes.
Delmar said the relationship-building with the youth begins at the door; she stands right there to greet the kids as they come in. “Finding out if someone had a bad day when he or she arrives and turning their day into something positive is important, [because] when they go home, they know someone cares about them,” she said.
This was the first year that the Lehi Branch sent kids to the Boys and Girls Club’s Keystone Club national conference. Delmar said certain levels in community service and leadership had to be attained in order for the Lehi Branch to attend.
Both younger children and teens are supported at the Boys and Girls Club.
“The teens in our program inspire the younger kids to realize they too can come into the Teen Center when they turn 13. This helps them with transition into the program, and the teens love it,” Delmar said.
Delmar said the most important thing she shares with her staff is for them to become “the favorite toy in the room for that kid.” She said you can have the most expensive items for the kids to play with, but the staff is what makes the club.
“We should be the best toy in the room, in the sense that if the child wants to talk, they should be able to do so and be comfortable, or simply to play a game of cards,” she said. “That is our goal—to be able to develop as many relationships as we can with the kids.”
For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Lehi Branch, or to register, call (480) 850-4453.