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Bandon Community Youth Center

Bandon Community Youth Center (BCYC), newly directed by Charissa Stokes, is off to an excellent start this 2016-17 school year.  Charissa, hired only in April of 2016, had to hit the ground running to finish workshops that had been going since before she started as director.  She also continued the planning for summer camps in 8 short weeks and finished the school year strong.

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Charissa has been living in Bandon for the past seven years, first working at Bandon Dunes and then as a full-time mom.  Her family is from Bandon, and she lived in Coquille for much of her life.  She moved to Eugene for a couple of years but was motivated to move back to the area to be around family and to raise her three kids (ages 14, 9, and 2) in a small town.  Charissa was not a newcomer to the BCYC when she started her new job.  She had been a member of the board since early fall, so she was familiar with the mission, goals, activities, and funding sources.

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Planning for only one of the three summer camps was underway when Charissa started as director, but that didn’t stop her from leading three amazing camps.  Ocean Commotion was partially funded by a Pipeline Connector grant and included an overnight stay with the sharks at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.  Kids made water rockets and learned about the moon and stars at Space Camp, and got to ride on a Rogue River jet boat and hike at Blacklock Point in Explorer Camp.

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It looks like the school year will be just as happily busy for Charissa and Bandon’s youth. Monday-Thursday, there will be activities going on at BCYC; the first 30 minutes are for homework or reading, and then each day will have a different focus: Mondays are for art, Tuesdays for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) projects, Wednesdays are for finishing unfinished projects, and Thursdays are fun days!

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Other activities and workshops will be happening throughout the year.  As always, Kelly Oney at the Wool Company invites kids for a knitting workshop (for a small fee for materials), and new this year will be a “Mobile Movie” workshop on October 13, a day off for students.  A volunteer from the community will come and teach kids how to make movies with their iMovie apps and will submit completed movies to the Oregon Coast Film Festival at the Egyptian Theater later in the month!  Plans for other days off are in the works.  Lunch will be provided on these days thanks to a grant from the City of Bandon!

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An exciting change this year is the incorporation of families into kids’ activities at the Youth Center.  This fall, kids will be building catapults, and families will be invited to see them in action as they are used to chuck pumpkins.

There’s a bright future ahead for the Bandon Community Youth Center.  A theater camp is being planned for late spring, and there will be more summer camp excitement happening after school is out.

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Charissa is also working with kids on planting, maintaining, and harvesting garden vegetables.  As of mid-September, the tomatoes were going crazy and carrots were peeking out from under the soil.  Special thanks go to community members John and Peggi Towne who are dedicated volunteers who help make the gardens grow!   Plans for a new native, fire safe garden in the front of the building are underway with the help of Coos Watershed.  The GAG (Gorse Action Group) program will be helping to deal with the gorse on the Youth Center’s property.

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The number and types of workshops and activities the BCYC is able to do is dependent entirely on soft money.  They receive a number of grants and donations as well as proceeds from The Bite of Bandon event in late winter.  Grants have helped pay for a summer camp, a lunch program on days off, and a math tutor, and possible grant for $28,000 for STEM projects is in the works!

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There are many ways to help the Bandon Community Youth Center thrive.  It depends on volunteers to make their workshops, camps, and after school activities happen.  To keep their costs low and direct all of its funds to kids’ programs, they can always use help.  Donations of any amount are also gladly accepted and appreciated.

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Bandon is very fortunate to have such a dynamic resource for its kids.  If we invest in our community’s youth, we will see the payoff immediately with happier, healthier, and more well-rounded kids.  The payoff continues into the future as well when these kids grow into well-adjusted, confident, community-minded adults!

The details:

Bandon Community Youth Center
Serving primarily grades 4-8 (with leadership hours available for older students!)
101 11th Ave. SW
After school hours: 3:15-5
For more information, to register a student, or to find out how you can help, call 541-347-8336 or email bandonyouth@gmail.com
Find them on Facebook for the most updated information!

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