When the $4.2 million construction project at the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo ends in the spring, the building of almost 40,000 square feet will allow more children to participate.
“We never want to turn the kids away,” said club CEO Roberto Martinez. “We want to make sure that we can grow with the community, grow with the city, so that the children always have somewhere to go.”
The Boys & Girls Club is adding about 6,500 square feet to its existing 33,000-square-foot facility on Temple Avenue and renovating 18,000 square feet of it, he said.
The club started the project in October, but this is not the first facelift of the building.
The nonprofit has served Camarillo since 1967 and moved to its current location in 1973, Martinez said. In the last five decades, the Boys & Girls Club has added to the building three times.
Among the additions was an 8,000-square-foot gymnasium built in 1985, which children enrolled in the summer camp said was one of their favorite aspects of the club.
The completed facility will be able to accommodate 475 children per day, up from 400, and host several new programs.
Construction in the background
At the Camarillo club on Friday morning, about 15 boys and girls stood in line for their turn in a bounce house that marked the end of summer.
They talked and joked as a 6-month-old Goldendoodle named Parmesan weaved between them. Mixed in among the laughter and yelling at the puppy were the sounds of construction equipment.
Since the construction started, the Boys andamp; Girls Club had to reduce the number of children it could serve. Last school year, about 125 to 150 children visited the club each day, down from 420 before construction, Martinez said.
The summer program is also affected. The club has seen about 85 to 100 kids a day this summer, he said. He served about 200 the previous summer.
In addition, the Boys & Girls Club wants to use the space available in the facility and in the Pleasant Valley School District to continue offering its programs, Martinez said.
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Once the project is completed, Martinez said the club will hire more help.
Four full-time and around 30 part-time employees currently work in the club. Martinez said he may need to hire one or two more full-time employees and six or seven part-time employees to help with the children and the additional programs.
Club member Makayla Guillen, 9, said her favorite part of the club was the fun she has with her friends and Parmesan, owned by a staff member. She is also excited about the extra space to play once construction is complete.
Raelyn Farnsworth, 10, agreed. It skips the games room, which is currently closed, and its puzzles, board games, pool tables and table tennis table.
The additional space will offer programs and rooms targeted to middle and high school students.
Two rooms will be dedicated to a planned Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programme. There will be a learning lab, a 3D printer, hands-on learning and staff who encourage children to make mistakes.
Kids can be put out of math and science because they struggle or get bad grades in those subjects, Martinez said. By encouraging children to learn from their mistakes, they may realize that STEM subjects can be fun, he added.
The STEM program was inspired by feedback from local schools and businesses. By getting kids excited about science at a young age, they are more likely to pursue a local career in the STEM field, Martinez said.
“They can stay in our community,” Martinez said. “One thing we’ve heard from local employers is that they need more avenues for local talent to get into those careers.”
There will also be a sensorimotor room where children with special needs can take a break in a quiet space. A new computer lab, art room and kitchen are also planned.
The Boys & Girls Club is not only changing children’s lives. It also has a positive impact on Camarillo, according to a 2018 study by California Lutheran University.
Every dollar invested in Boys & Girls Club in Ventura County translates into a positive rate of return of $16.04 to the community, according to the study. Look at the long term economic benefits that flow from Boys & Girls Clubs, including high school graduation rates, prevented teenage pregnancy and decreased substance abuse.
“With inflation on the rise, the rising cost of living and the reduction of affordable and accessible childcare due to the recent pandemic, I imagine the financial impact of our club is even greater now ,” Martinez said in an email.
To learn more or to donate visit www.bgccam.org.
Brian J. Varela covers Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-477-8014. You can also find him on Twitter @BrianVarela805.