Colleen Bernardis on Childcare and Youth Programs
This month we sat down with Colleen Bernardis, the youth programs coordinator at Club Greenwood, to discuss childcare and youth programs.
What programming does Club Greenwood offer for children?
Club Greenwood has a wide variety of programming for children ages three months to 15 years. We have a program called Gym Jam. It’s geared toward our young members and introduces them to activities aimed at developing large motor skills while burning off energy. We also came up with a program called Hop, Skip, Jump and Play where kids do exercises on our rebounder trampolines, practicing agility, playing games, burning energy and learning about the importance of fitness and staying healthy.
For our teenagers, we have a Counselor in Training program which takes those ages 13 to 15 and teaches them the aptitude needed to prepare them for a real job of their own. Participants are attending Camp Greenwood as if they were in an interim position at a workplace, they learn the ins and outs of how the camp is run as a business, as well as the hands-on skills of planning, organizing and running various activities.
How do you make sure parents are comfortable leaving their children in the hands of the Kid’s Club staff?
Making sure our families using our childcare feel comfortable leaving their children with our staff is of upmost importance to us. We make sure all of our staff have proper training before they begin working their shifts. They learn the ins and outs of our Kids’ Club and Youth Activity Club, including which activities are in each area for the kids to participate in, how to work the computer system, how to deliver the best customer service, as well as becoming trained in CPR and First Aid. They are also all required to pass a state background check before they begin.
What is the importance of having great staff in a kid’s club offering?
It is necessary to be sure our youth department staff are top notch and trustworthy. If a family ever came in and we had staff members who were not friendly, welcoming, outgoing or responsible, it would be hard to keep them coming back. We hire the best for our childcare areas to ensure kids are excited to come back and play, and parents do not have to worry about their children being safe and having fun so they can focus on their workout.
Why is it important to offer programs that engage children in motion versus just offering a babysitting service?
We pride ourselves on the variety of activities kids can engage in while they are in our Kids’ Club or Youth Activity Club. We do not just have the children sit around or turn on a movie or television for the kids to watch while their parents are working out, but encourage them to get up and move as well. We have our PLAYTIME soft play equipment for our little ones in Kids’ Club so they are able to play, run, jump and climb. Our Youth Activity Club, for kids five to 12, is equipped with gym games such as dodgeball, basketball, floor hockey and tag. All of our youth programs incorporate exercise one way or another, whether it be having them play gym games, participate in a sport, dance and sing, or just run around to get their energy out. Making sure kids exercise and move their bodies is so important for us, as we know it helps them stay both physically and mentally healthy as well as improves mental well-being.
Three Tips for Running a Successful Kids Club:
1. Have a trustworthy and outgoing staff. Every great childcare has qualified and trained staff that truly enjoys playing with kids and getting to know them. Our staff prides ourselves on knowing mom, dad, nanny and the name of the family’s pets.
2. Make adjustments and keep up with trends when planning programming. You might have created a program that was fun years ago, but you need to be sure you are developing with the “cool” things kids are into to keep them and parents interested in coming back.
3. Collect feedback from members and kids about what they like or what they would like to see in the future in the youth department. Getting this advice helps you get ideas on where you can improve and what you can do to be sure everyone is having a great time.