Tell Me About The Boys and Girls Club of America (BCGA)
February 19, 2018 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about the BCGA as a possible activity for a 10-year-old. But I don't know that much about them, and not being from the US, it's hard for me to parse online opinions of BCGA. Anyway, I'm interested in organizations that are respectful and inclusive of diversity in ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Would BCGA be one of those organizations that fit the bill? Thank you!
posted by life moves pretty fast to Human Relations (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my experience the local clubs and the national organization are really distinct entities. Local clubs vary in quality by the people that run them. So while I'm with you that I prefer to support organizations that are inclusive, it is also really likely (in my direct experience with 3 BGCs) that what happens at the club could be entirely different. Probably it is a good idea to dig around about the practices of your local club as well.
People use these as their primary before/after school care and then (like me and possibly you) others use them for just their activity and athletic leagues. The people that use them for primary childcare usually will know the scoop about your local club best.
In my area BGCs are far more affordable childcare options and tend to serve as overflow for those that can't get into the before and aftercare that has the contract with the public school or people that can't afford the care that is in the school building. Kids walk or bus to the club from the school. They also have less strict supervision than other childcare centers. Kids sign themselves in and out (at least around here) and older kids absolutely come and go as they please. Some parents don't like this. In my area, BGCs are more economically and racially diverse than the more expensive childcare options.
My experience with activities is that they are cheap and non-competitive and that the permanent staff as well as the temporary staff are really good and care a lot about children.
posted by k8t at 1:06 PM on February 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

As someone who has grown up in the Mid-Atlantic region and has raised kids for over 2 decades to have those values, I know almost nothing about BCGA. Please explore as the prior person is spot-on about everything is contingent on the adults and parents running the group your kiddo joins. If you have a great experience & good people, that is all you need.

The first national group that comes to mind with those values is the Girl Scouts, as they are inclusive with transgender scouts.

Another national group that does not have a focus on gender, but has broad interests, is 4-H, and is more about personal development through project-based learning. Some clubs have themes, like robotics.

Boy Scouts is supposed to be better. Venture crew for high school teens (girls and boys) is where it’s most promising. That being said, it has a program for many, many religions, but does not have a great track record with secular humanists and atheists.

To your point about inclusion, where in the US would your kiddo be connecting with these groups? Most parents fall back on local support, as my state has several cities and counties with laws that support diversity in gender identity and sexual orientation, which makes diversity a community, and not just an organizational standard, which can help with climate.
posted by childofTethys at 3:57 PM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

My wife did some seasonal work at a BGC camp a few years ago. The clubs are local, so one club will be different from others, but in general, they're poorly funded and not very developmentally-oriented. Many, if not most, are inner-city, so there will be a lot of non-white kids, but there will also be the same problems that inner-city schools face. A lot of the kids will be from troubled backgrounds, and some of the older kids may actually be involved in petty crime. These kids will occupy most of the adults' time, so unless your kid is already self-directed, they won't actually get much attention. And the lack of money will astound you. My wife's program held an end-of-summer pizza party, but they only had enough money to buy two pizzas for around 100 kids. The staff ended up spending their own cash (many were making less than $10/hour) so that the kids could eat. In general, I found the staff to be some of the nicest, most caring people, but they were limited by circumstance. There's only so much you can do.

But again, this was an urban club. If the club you're looking at is more suburban or middle-class, you'll have a completely different experience.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:35 PM on February 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

My kids have both been in our local BGC summer camps and overall they have had a good experience. I think that as everyone has said, it really depends a lot on the local club, how it is ran, & who the staff is.
posted by jmsta at 5:18 PM on February 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone, useful and informative, as always. The comments on lack of resources are interesting.
posted by life moves pretty fast at 5:05 AM on February 21, 2018

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