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After-school programming in the heart of Brentwood Bay

BGCSVI taking registrations for this term and next school year, beside elementary school
Seven-year-old Aaliyah Wood (from left) reads along with Paige Bennett, team lead and facility manager at BGC South Vancouver Island, while Tiana Ramsay, professional practice manager of child and youth programs, gives five-year-old Hudson Crouch a hand with his reading at the BGCSVI Central Saanich Club. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

A non-profit organization with a record of more than six decades of supplying safe, experiential learning spaces for children is serving Central Saanich families in an even greater way these days.

BGC South Vancouver Island continues to accept registrations for this school year for its after-school program for Brentwood Elementary students aged five to 12.

The facility, licensed for 20 children, is also accepting applications for the 2022-23 school year. Besides after-school care, licensed pro-development day camps as well as spring, summer and winter break camps are offered.

BGC South Vancouver Island (formerly Boys and Girls Club) launched the after-school service last September due to growing demand.

“When this centre originally opened before COVID, it was strictly doing youth programs at night time,” said Tiana Ramsay, professional practice manager of child and youth programs. “But we saw that there was a real need.”

After the pandemic forced temporary closure of its facility at 1233 Clarke Rd. in Brentwood Bay, the organization used the time to secure a licence to operate summer camps in 2021 before starting the after-school program at the location.

“There is a need for youth, but also there is a need for a lot of parents,” said Ramsay.

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Children in the program participate in a variety of activities, including gross-motor play, crafts, out trips, themed activities and sports. It helps that the centre’s physical space is located in the heart of Brentwood Bay, adjacent to a park that is soon to become a community garden.

“It is accessible from everywhere,” Ramsay said, pointing to the school some 300 metres away. The facility is also close to Pioneer Park, Rom Knott Park, the Central Saanich branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library and other amenities such as the beach. Trees also shade the facility, which unlike others is not operated in a portable building.

“And because of where we are, we have great partnerships with the library, with the police, the fire department – we have people who come by,” Ramsay noted. “We are in the heart of the community, which means we get to interact with a whole bunch of different people, which is kind of cool. I don’t know if you would have that, if you are on a school ground.”

The facility aims for diversity in other ways, with a range of socio-economic backgrounds represented, a scenario that is consistent with the organization’s larger stated philosophy emphasizing inclusion and accessibility.

“At BGC South Vancouver Island we understand that opportunity changes everything for the children, youth and families we serve,” reads a backgrounder. “We tackle systemic problems by giving kids and teens access to opportunities they might not find outside our walls – systemic equity, systemic acceptance, systemic support, systemic opportunities!”

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