When you combine around 150 students from kindergarten to fourth grade in one area - it's an adventure just to keep them under control!
This is Adventure Club - an organized program through CommUNITY Education which gives students of those age group a safe, structured and supervised environment when early school dismissals are planned due to staff in service days and parent/teacher conferences.
The program has been around for students to take part in for about nine years. This year's coordinator is Becca Zabel, a May graduate of Buena Vista University. She has a degree in leadership communication.
Though the coordinator is a salaried position, and other school personnel helping out on occassion are paid, Adventure Club's success relies on a host of volunteers from the high school and university. JoAnn Lanning's Key Club, a division of Kiwanis, and Peg Havens' ACES students make up a number of the volunteers.
In addition to being associated with CommUNITY Education, the Adventure Club is partnered with Americorp and the after school program, Elementary Tornado Academy.
"Without all of their participation, this program wouldn't be possible," commented Pat Cowan, CommUNITY Education director.
The Adventure Club draws anywhere from 150-170 young students. The first event of the year was held Friday at the home base, South School. Activities included crafts and games. This year there will be 13 Adventure Club dates.
The numbers vary just as the scheduled activities do. Other adventures the students have had the chance to take part in include roller skating, swimming, days in the park, going to the movie theater and visiting Pistol Pete's Pumpkin Patch near Peterson.
"Adventure Club days are fun days," said Cowan. "Unlike ETA, there are no academics involved."
Students taking part in Adventure Club bring a sack lunch to be eaten at their own schools once school is dismissed at 11:10 a.m. After they have eaten, they are transported to South, or to the site of their adventure, by the school bus. Parents are responsible for picking their children up at the completion of the day, which is 5 p.m., or sooner if desired.
Zabel had the opportunity to be a volunteer with the middle school after school program last year and is looking forward to working for and with the youth. The Renville, Minn. native admitted that the first event was a learning experience and that each subsequent event will be better than the prior one. She also knows from the first that "the volunteers were great."
An orientation is held for all the volunteers of the Adventure Club events at which time the coordinator goes over the plan and assigns duties to each of them. This helps in the organization of the day's plans so that everything will go as smoothly as it possibly can.
Zabel said she has been keeping her eye out for ideas to share with the participants of Adventure Club; it is bound to be a good year!