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Boys & Girls Club rewarded with USS North Carolina trip

It’s a points system. They get points for showing up, points for taking part in club service projects, points for doing homework and more for applying themselves in school, both academically and behaviorally. But it’s when the points rack up that the payoffs happen.

On Saturday, more than 20 members of the Beaufort County Boys and Girls Club’s Washington unit made a trip to the coast courtesy of the club’s points/reward system. Seventy points or more earned these children a visit to the USS North Carolina, a decommissioned battleship berthed in Wilmington, and a chance to dip their toes in the Atlantic Ocean at Wrightsville Beach.

“It was a lot of fun, really successful,” said Walter Lanham, marketing agent for Boys and Girls Club units in Washington and Belhaven and a tutor at the Washington site. “A couple of our members had never been to the beach before. We were really excited to give them that opportunity,” he said.

Recently, transformation has been the motto of the Boys and Girls Club, with a new unit director, Malveata Collins, working alongside the club’s chief professional officer, Alice Mills Sadler, to rejuvenate the club’s image.

“They’re working tirelessly to transform the Boys and Girls Club, finding volunteers, making program changes,” said Lanham. “They love what they do and you can see it — it comes through with all the changes.”

On a given day between 60 and 75 boys and girls drop in at the club after school. They start with the “power hour,” in which the children do their homework, sometimes with the assistance of tutors. Next comes “triple play,” the fitness hour during which the children might be found playing basketball under the coaching of John Lampkins or learning how to play golf from a guest athlete. Computer instruction and art classes are offered, as well mentoring services that have been extended to encompass family mediation.

“We’re working with (the children) on a personal level,” said Lanham. “You get to watch them grow up before your eyes. You get to know their families and see that you’re actually making an impact.”

As Boys and Girls Club members participate in the club’s points/reward system, where staying on track in school and participating with service projects both in the club and the wider community, the lesson revealed is that rewards come with setting and achieving goals. More trips like the one to Wilmington are in their future.

For the staff members of the Boys and Girls Club, continuing the revitalization of the 20-year-old club is the goal, as they seek more volunteers, varied programming and gear up for their 16th-annual golf tournament at the Washington Yacht & County Club on May 18.

“It’s a total team effort. It’s starting to really gel,” said Lanham. “We’re looking to get really involved … to serve all the children in the community, but especially the ones who need us the most.”

The Boys and Girls Club’s Washington unit is located at 1089 N. Bridge St., Washington, 252-975 9311; the Belhaven unit is located at 225 W. Pantego St., Belhaven, 252-943-3233.