During the summer, about 400 kids enter the 32,000-square-foot James A. Collins Youth Center, which serves as the main home for the Boys & Girls Club of Venice.

From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., club members engage in a variety of activities that not only keep them in a positive and safe environment, but also enhance their knowledge and skills in areas such as the arts, sports, fitness, social recreation and education. The club offers scholarships to club members who can’t afford to pay the $40 per week fee during the summer.

“Every year, we receive tons of calls from families looking for an affordable and exciting summer program,” said Armando Diaz, director of operations at the club.

“We are happy to help fill that void in the community.”

In addition to activities at the main clubhouse, members get to attend specialty camps with club partners. Some of the camps attended this summer include basketball camps hosted by Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, AC Green and Pepperdine University.

Club members also spent a week camping in the Santa Monica Mountains at Camp Gilmore, explored marine life at Cabrillo Beach, visited the California Science Center, the Getty Museum and attended the Summer X-Games at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Other popular programs included the Fast & Fun Summer Sailing program, an eight-week program that taught sailing, kayaking and water safety.

“My favorite activity this summer was playing in the club’s summer basketball league,” said 11-year-old club member Alexis Beaty.

In addition to the numerous summer activities for club members, the club hired over 30 high school students as junior staff members through the UCLA community-based learning program. The jobs gave many deserving teen club members their first job experience and an opportunity to give back to the community.

“It is a very good opportunity,” said Eduardo Guerrero, a junior staff member who attends Culver City High School. “Some people don’t get this type of opportunity to get a job and work experience.”

The best part is that all of the club members start school with new experiences and fresh outlooks on life.

Erikk Aldridge is the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice, located at 2232 Lincoln Blvd.

For more information on the club, (310) 390-4477, or www.bgcv.org/.

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