SALEM — For hundreds of children and families in Southern New Hampshire, “vibrant Boys and Girls Clubs” is one of the “603 Reasons” the Granite State is special.
This week is as vibrant as the clubs get.
School vacation packs the clubs from morning until night.
Loud laughter and giggling filled a crowded game room yesterday morning at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem.
Club members prepared for a field trip to see a movie.
But stop by the club any day and children are learning to swim, playing floor hockey, learning about technology, even completing their homework assignments.
There are sports leagues, including girls volleyball.
“I’m totally not surprised people” would say the clubs make New Hampshire special, interim director Chris Woodby said. “That’s as it should be.”
It’s not just that the club gives kids something to do in a safe place.
“Our programming encompasses the whole kid,” Woodby said.
That means helping to build their character, too, he said.
They learn leadership skills and grow their personalities.
“They are part of programming that stays with them for a lifetime,” Woodby said.
Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter.
“We’re here for every child, no matter what their circumstances,” he said.
Interests don’t matter either. There’s something for everyone, from the kid who likes gym to the kid who prefers the arts.
“We allow kids to be kids,” Woodby said.
About 400 children a day go through the doors in Salem.
Woody said there are more than 2,000 members, ages 6 through 18, plus a preschool program for kids as young as 3.
Children come from all over: Salem, Windham, Pelham, Hampstead, Atkinson, Methuen.
Kayla Cianciulli, 9, is a three-year member, whose favorite activities are swimming and knockout, a basketball game.
Kayla, who wants to be a nurse when she grows up, admits she was a little shy when she joined the club.