Boys & Girls Club provides fun, mentorship

Boys & Girls Club assistant Moriah Babneau cuddles with a couple of the young guests.


by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

There’s much to offer at Elk River Boys & Girls Club, and local youths are invited to take advantage.

“Our club is a safe and fun place for kids to come after school,” said director Russ Branjord, who is assisted by ERHS senior Moriah Babneau. “Moriah and I try to focus on building our kids’ imagination and character through their involvement in our planning of activities and supporting each other.”

The club’s Youth Development Strategy is called CUBI –  meaning senses of Competence (feeling proud and confident to acquire new skills), Usefulness (the satisfaction of doing something of value for others), Belonging (knowing they are welcome and fit in) and Influence (knowing their opinions are heard and valued).

Fun in a tent at a Boys & Girls Club party.

In December, kids visiting the club helped plan an indoor camping day, helped host a party for the local cast of Youth Theatre Workshop’s “Rudolph,” and helped  host a NERF Dart Tag “Capture the Flag” party. The kids and counselors also used their imaginations taking broken tables and creating an indoor luge.

Branjord is a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. Branjord and Babneau are active in local theater groups.

“We have many more programs and activities in the works for 2012,” said Branjord. They are:

Power Hour —Mentoring and tutoring to help kids with homework and college prep, Monday through Friday beginning at 3 p.m.

Job Ready — Mentoring getting ready for a job, Tuesdays at 4 p.m,

Career Launch —Mentoring on careers, Thursdays at 4 p.m.

Youth of the Year — a program where a club member receives a $1,000 scholarship and an opportunity to earn over $25,000 in scholarships.

Camping get-together at the Boys & Girls Club.

The facility, located at 905 Sixth St. West, just west of Jackson Avenue, near Lions Park, is open Monday through Friday, 2 to 6 p.m. Cost is  $10 for a year’s membership. Memberships are free for kids with a parent in the military. Call 763-241-5000, ext. 12.

Having leaders like Staff Sergeant Liz Lindskoog from the local Army National Guard recruiting office take an active role in our council, and through all of our community supporters; like Waste Management and Great River Energy,  we are financially stable and are growing in memberships said Branjord.

“However, more help is still needed, and we are thankful for all donations,” he said.