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Boys & Girls: The place to be a kid this summer
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Club members Jeriemia Cunningham, left, and Tommy Ganterberry play chess. - photo by HIME ROMERO

• WHAT: Boys & Girls Club
• WHERE: 545 W. Alameda St., Manteca
• WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.
• COST: A one-year membership is $24.
• MORE INFO: Call 239-KIDS

Organized chaos?

That’s what Mark McCool of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Manteca / Lathrop calls the usual flurry of activities taking place during the afternoon peak hours of the summer program.

“There’s a rhyme and reason behind it,” he said on Thursday. “An outsider might see it as kids running wildly.

“But look closely and what you might see are kids wearing big smiles who are enjoying a memorable summer.”

The summer program kicked off on May 29 or shortly after the end of the school year.

For the next 10 weeks – the program concludes on Aug. 7 – club members age 18 and under can take part in various activities planned by the Boys and Girls Clubs staff.

Included are Tug A War (June 6), Chief Police Academy (June 12), Bake-Off Contest (June 13), Musical Chairs (June 28), Water Day (July 11), Trike Race (July 18), and Talent Show (July25), to name a few.

McCool, who is director of operations, has already noticed a spike in attendance during the early goings of the summer program.

“We’re up 33 percent in attendance,” he said. “The other day we had as many as 175 – we’re hoping to have a 300-kid day at some point this summer.”

Partnerships are the key to the program.

The Boys and Girls Club are teaming up with the Manteca Camera Club to offer photography classes for youngsters age 10 through 18 beginning Friday at 4:30 p.m. Space is limited to 10.

They’re partnering with GK Music to provide free guitar lessons for members between the ages of 10 and 15. This class also begins on Friday and is limited to 10.

“We’ve had to be creative with staffing and one way of doing it is by building partnerships,” McCool said.

The Boys and Girls Clubs, in addition, partner with the Manteca Police Department to bring in the Junior CSI Academy and the Junior Police Academy.

Robin Taberna has helped out the club since 1982 with free martial arts classes.

Thanks to the support of San Joaquin County and the Manteca Unified School District’s Nutrition Services, the Boys and Girls Clubs offer free daily meals to anyone 18 and under. “You don’t have to be a member,” McCool added.

Breakfast is served from 10 to 11 a.m. while lunch is offered from 1 to 2 p.m.

And then there are the volunteers.

Christian Trotter, 15, wanted to help out this summer. “I thought I could offer my services,” he said.

As a first-time volunteer, the incoming Manteca High junior supervises the game room. His duties include cleaning up, and checking in and checking out games to the younger members.

“We have about 500 volunteers,” McCool said. “Without them we’re without coaches for our sports leagues or tutors.”

The summer program is offered at the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Crutchfield Center, 545 W. Alameda St., Manteca, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

Cost for a one-year membership is $24.

For more information, call 209-239-5437 or click on to