Bethesda News

Summer Programs: Memories that Last

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 1:6

As we enter July, our Community Center’s two summer programs are in full swing!

Our summer program serves 60–70 students during the week. We simultaneously offer a basketball program that provides 30–40 additional youth with high-level training.

Our summer program starts around 10:30 am with free time, during which students engage with other classes. This creates unity and allows mentorships to develop. Groups then break off by grade for an hour-long lesson.

Afterward, students eat lunch and go on field trips to various locations and landmarks in and around Harrisburg. They return for a 4:30 pm dismissal.

While youth in the summer program are out learning and exploring, those in our basketball program are hard at work in the gymnasium, developing teamwork and fundamental skills.

Together, these two programs allow us to reach over 100 kids with life lessons and the gospel message! Our staff builds bonds with and impacts not only the youth in these programs but also their families!

Anna and Elaine

Anna Wenrich, the Community Center’s Administrative Assistant, ensures that everything (from registration to the bus schedules) is correct to smooth the challenges of our programs.

“For me, summer starts in March,” Anna reflected. “The details need to be set so that returning youth can sign up in April.”

During drop-off and pick-up, Anna builds relationships with parents and their kids. Several girls will stay and talk with her during their free time. One such girl is Elaine.

“I help her with tasks,” Elaine reflected. “She took us around downtown to see the art murals. During after-school program, I come every day and see her at the front desk. [We talk] about my day.”

Elaine is excited to be a part of our summer and workforce development programs. “I get to know new people,” Elaine said. “[This year], I’ll get to do something different. Instead of just being a student, I’ll actually be working!”

When she was asked about a memory from last year, Elaine mentioned the trip to Hersheypark. “I got on the Great Bear rollercoaster, and I went on the waterpark rides.”

Elaine also mentioned going to Koons Pool in Linglestown. “I got in the pool last year. [During the previous two], I didn’t get into the pool once (even though I was there twice a week).”

“The bottom line is that the kids have fun,” Anna added. “We want them to take away that memory of having fun and being kids. I was in a park program, and those memories and connections have stuck with me.”

And our programs are certainly fun. Students take biweekly trips to the pool. Three reward trips are offered to students who engage consistently and positively with our staff and their peers, including one to Dorney Park, one to Washington, DC, and one to the beach.

All of that said, “It’s a program, not a daycare,” Anna asserted. “Programs are a vital part of who we are, and they set us apart. We are intentional and relational. Trips are not guaranteed, and the lessons come first.”

The Seven C’s Significance

The focus of these programs is to develop timeless skills and attributes in the youth who enter our Community Center: the seven C’s.

They are divided into skills (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking) and attributes (Character, Care, and Confidence).

Our staff prioritizes the C’s based on the age range of their students. These classes build on each other, providing youth with a continuously growing skill set for the future.

“The seven C’s are woven into the fabric of what we do,” Anna elaborated. “We try to make it as natural as possible. Sometimes, [students] don’t even notice they are building those skills and living out those traits.”

The skill-related C’s are also the foundation for rooms in our new Community Center building.

Our New Building

The external structure, including the authentically replicated facade, and the first floor have been finished!

In the past few weeks, we have been moving furniture and other items into the classrooms. “We’re excited to have more space,” Anna said. “This is going to be a good test run of the first floor.”

Thank you for making this building project possible. We are looking forward to the installation of the elevator (slated for August) and more construction on the second floor later this year. We are already making lasting memories with our students. Your gifts have created a legacy of impact on kids, teens, and families.

We have also switched to a new volunteer app, VOMO, which provides more freedom in registering than ever. You can volunteer and to donate toward completing the building by clicking the included links. Thank you!

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