Boys and Girls Club of La Crosse keeps teens safe and active over the summer

In an effort to keep kids socialized, active and safe, the Boys and Girls Club is giving teens a place to go, because so many camps, sports and other things have been canceled this summer. In late July, the Boys and Girls Club opened up a teen center downtown in a effort to keep teens occupied.

“Really try to get some space for the teenage population to have a place to go, and to have a place to hangout,” said Andy Kiel, the Director of Operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater La Crosse.

During a regular summer, their teen programs bring in around 150 middle and high schoolers, but this summer, that number is drastically lower.

“Right now there’s about 12 teens, but we’ve been averaging about 20 a day,” said Kiel.

If they weren’t at the center,

“At home, on my bed, with my phone, because it’s going to be boring. But this isn’t boring,” said Ava Bowman, a teen at the club.

But at the club, they’re doing plenty of activities, that aren’t boring.

“We’re doing sort of a tournament style stuff with video games, pool tournaments, four square, air hockey,.. UNO has become really popular this summer,” said Kiel.

And Ava’s favorite part of the summer isn’t necessarily the activities.

“The people that are here, and the staff,” said Bowman.

Kiel said the number one priority, above having fun, is safety.

“Students are wearing masks, members are wearing masks, taking it seriously, learning as we go, but we’re really trying to prep them for when they return to school if there is still a mask mandate going on,” said Kiel.

The program wraps up at the end of this month. The Boys and Girls Club said it’s planning to find a safe way to support the teens when they go back to school virtually in September.