The impact of March Break programming in a tight-knit community

It might be assumed, March Break camps are the easiest way to keep the kids busy over long school holidays without having to plan it yourself; but after speaking with the staff, volunteers, and youth involved in the East Scarborough Boys & Girls Club’s (ESBGC) March Break Camp, it’s clear these experiences are cherished on a much deeper level.

The five-day programming consisted of on-site activities at ESBGC’s main Galloway site, and other satellite locations, as well as supervised trips, allowing youth an opportunity to explore and participate in events across Toronto, including the Raptors 905 team game and Wizard World.

Youth participant, Markelle, said the Raptors game was his favourite.

“We got to meet the team’s coach. This was the best part of the week,” he said excitedly.

The energy was at a high for Friday’s programming, a culmination of the week’s event, the gathering of children and youth from across all sites, and warm lunch from Second Harvest – an organization that works with farmers and food retailers “to capture surplus food” before it goes to waste.

For an optional $5, the children received the lunch, with proceeds going back to support Second Harvest.

But perhaps the most rewarding part of this experience — meeting the long-time staff members.

ESBGC staff member Samantha, has been a part of the camp for six years. She began as a participant in a program called Focus on Youth, and later returned as staff – something that requires dedication, commitment and an appreciation for the club’s growth opportunities, she explained.

“[It] doesn’t feel like a ‘job’ the kids really get to bond with staff and we become mentors,” she said.

“The kids break out of their shell and participate in something other than school.  They can be productive and have fun.”

Through the eyes of the staff, volunteers, and students, it is visible to see the tremendous impact of March Break programming in this tightknit east Toronto community – a good place to be for all those involved.

Ashley Abdul is a full-time Political Science major at York University, working towards a career in Public/Media Relations in the non-profit world. She identifies as  a proud Indo-Caribbean and expresses herself through the art of spoken word and poetry.