Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs junior staff member Maggie Kriz, left, races potato sacks with 10-year-old Wyatt Gray, middle, and 7-year-old Lowen Epstein on Tuesday during the club's grand opening on the field at Eighth and Pine streets.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs junior staff member Maggie Kriz, left, races potato sacks with 10-year-old Wyatt Gray, middle, and 7-year-old Lowen Epstein on Tuesday during the club's grand opening on the field at Eighth and Pine streets.

Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat hosts a community showcase

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For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs, call Heather Martyn at 846-7710.

— Liam Baxter became the 391st member of the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs during its open house Tuesday.

Gary Baxter said he and his 7-year-old son attended the carnival-themed event in the grass field next to the George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street to check out the club.

"It's been nothing but talked about in town," Baxter said. "Everyone I've heard from has nothing but great things to say about this program."

The club, a branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, opened its doors June 8. There were 37 children enrolled after that first day. About 75 children attend the club every day.

Heather Martyn, who worked for more than a year to open the club in Steamboat, said Tuesday's event was an opportunity for the community to see what they've been doing.

Food and drinks were provided and a number of games and activities, including potato sack races, face painting and an inflatable moonwalk, were available for the children.

Susan Oehme brought her 10-year-old son, Jason, to the club for the first time Tuesday.

"It's really a great program," she said. "But it's also very affordable. In these times, it helps out a lot."

The club costs $1 per hour or $10 a day and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Bruce Dean's 7-year-old daughter, Anna, and 6-year-old son, Smith, have attended the Boys & Girls Club all summer, in part because of the flexibility it provides.

"Whenever I need to work or my wife needs to work, we can drop them off and pick them up a couple hours later, and it's cheap," he said. "And they have a good time."

The Boys & Girls Club activities include sports and recreation, arts and crafts, and educational programming. Leadership training, health and life skills instruction and teen programming also are available. Children can earn "Club Bucks," which then can be used to purchase prizes. Pizza parties, for example, cost 500 Club Bucks.

Nine-year-old Theo Hansen said he's saving his Club Bucks to buy two hunting computer games and some hats. He said he liked playing games in the club's computer room and on the Nintendo Wii in the rec room, but his favorite activity was the daily kickball games.

"I came the first day, and I've gone all summer," he said. "It's really, really, really fun."

Leah Caragol said Tuesday was only her fourth day attending the club, but already she's having a good time.

"It's really fun, and I like it," said the 10-year-old, who had a smiling monkey painted on her arm at the open house. "There's a lot of fun stuff to do. And we get to go on field trips, and it's awesome."

Martyn said the Boys & Girls Club will be available from 3 to 7 p.m. after the school year starts in August. She said it likely would be similar to the summer program, with a variety of activities for children in addition to homework help. The cost for the fall program hasn't been determined, Martyn said.

Boys & Girls Club board member Marion Kahn worked with the Little Rock Boys & Girls Club for 20 years before moving to Steamboat 2 1/2 years ago. She said the program is important for the education and opportunities it provides children but that it also is important for its impacts on the community.

"Boys & Girls Club is a heart thing," she said. "It's never going to be the big money charity in town. The people involved are giving of themselves, their time and money, because they want the community to be a better place, to be a better place for their children."

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