HARLINGEN — Want to play in a basketball tournament? This is the place to do it.
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The Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen has activities this summer to suit every need, taste and temperament of almost any kid who walks through the doors of its five units.
If you’re bored on a Friday afternoon, come out to the kiddie carnival where you can laugh and play in the inflatable bouncers.
And as Alma Dones, unit director at the Main, says, it just never seems to end. Maybe that’s why the Main alone averages about 150 kids a day.
“Our focus this summer and any other summer is to offer kids with the best club experience possible,” she said. “We try to provide a wide range of activities in education and recreation.”
And that they have.
“We had our volleyball camp and our basketball camp,” she said. “We’re working on our upcoming basketball, volleyball and soccer tournaments within the five clubs. They usually bring from 50 to 100 kids competing against each other in friendly competition.”
Kids can combine recreation with education by checking out an iPad.
This summer the Boys and Girls Clubs had a brand new attraction — the money machine.
“Basically, the kids get from 15 to 25 seconds in there,” she said. “That money machine has got way over $100, from single one-dollar bills to fives and 10s. You also have coupons in there for free T-shirts, free concession items, free basketballs. Every kid gets to leave with something.”
But not just any kid gets a chance at the money machine.
“We use it as a reward for kids who participate in our programs, who show good character, who volunteer, who show random acts of kindness,” Dones said.
“Oh, I have it right here!”
Uniya Madrigal, 11, reached for another Lego piece as she built a helicopter last week during the STEM Camp. About 12 children had shown up for the second day of the camp,
“They are basically going to build something that moves,” she said. “It’s basically different types of moving machines.”
The Boys and Girls Clubs is presenting the camp so children — who have been divided into three groups — can learn specific methods to achieve a goal through teamwork. On July 15, they’d built an all-terrain vehicle on which they’ll spend the rest of the week tinkering.
“I would like for them to be able to go through the thinking process, from point A to point B,” Cuellar said. “I’d like them to be able to test a product, which is what they are doing with the car.”
Although they built a helicopter as a side project, the students would spend the rest of the week making modifications to their vehicles to make them safer. They seemed to be having a good time, although some became a little frustrated, as young engineers do.
“This thing’s kind of kooky,” said Nehemiah Gonzales, 10, who was trying to fit a round blue piece onto a back one.
At the end of the week, the children would have a competition to see who made the best car.
For Zena Nazar, 16, teaching dance is a very deliberate act of kindness that she enjoys.
“One, two, three, four!” she called out to a group of girls last week as she led them through some complex dance moves. The girls seemed caught up in the moment, following the steps as Zena directed them, arms moving high, bodies swaying to the side and then gracefully going to one bended knee before standing up.
“I’m teaching a choreography that I made up,” said Zena, an instructor at the dance camp held last week.
“It’s good exercise and physical activity through dance,” Zena said.
About 50 girls participated in the camp Tuesday through Thursday and instructors were pleased with the result.
“I love it because not a lot of girls can afford a dance class so they can come here for free. They are loving it,” she said.