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March 6, 2013

Former Boys Club goes from 2 girls to 400

Local Boys & Girls Club celebrates five years serving both genders


Claire Ngugi, 9, joined that first year at the suggestion of her mother, who asked if Claire was interested in attending Camp Tasker, the club's summer camp in Newton. It was a great summer, Claire said.

"I swam, played basketball, volleyball and kickball and I made a lot of new friends," she said. Since that time she has been attending the club daily after she gets out of Sacred Hearts School, where she is in fourth grade.

"I love the game room because it has all my favorite games and there's always something fun to do, like table tennis and bumper pool," Claire said of the club. "I like playing against boys and girls ... It mixes things up."

She's also on the club's hip hop dance team.

"I love to dance and it's good exercise," she said.

Camp Tasker, on the shores of Country Pond in Newton, was attended daily last summer by 60 boys and 60 girls from the inner city.

McKayla Dingle, 11, a fifth-grader at Consentino School, joined the club two years ago. McKayla is in a group at the club called "Triple Play," which focuses on making friends, getting along with others, as well as how to eat healthy and get exercise.

"I love the art room, which is new and not very crowded," McKayla said. "We draw things and make sculptures."

With the addition of girls, Camp Tasker also saw an increase in average daily attendance, going from 45 boys in 2008 to 120 boys and girls last year, Theirrien said. But that's not the only area of growth the club has experienced in recent years.

"We invested about $1 million in facility improvements at the camp and at the club," Theirrien said.

In Theirrien's eyes, the building at 55 Emerson St. which has long been home to the club has transformed into a community center, where brothers and sisters and cousins and friends participate in a variety of activities and programs.

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