EAGAR – In February, Mannie Bowler was named the new executive director of Round Valley Boys and Girls Club.
Prior to accepting the position, Bowler was the executive director of the United Way of Pinal County while her husband worked at Coronado Generating Station in St. Johns. Bowler commuted back and forth from Casa Grande during the weekends in order to spend time with her husband.
“When the Boys and Girls Club position first opened a few years ago here in Eagar, I wasn’t ready; the timing wasn’t quite right,” explains Bowler.
“But then, a year and a half later, the position was advertised and the timing still wasn’t perfect,” she adds. “But I wanted to be here at the Boys and Girls Club so I told my husband, ‘You know what – let’s do it.’”
Bowler is uniquely qualified for the position with a Masters in Public Education backed up by years of experience in early childhood education which includes teaching kindergarten. This position seems the perfect fit for Bowler’s experience and education, complete with the small-town feel and community appreciation that comes with it.
In an interview with the Independent, Bowler explained the Round Valley Boys and Girls Club “serves roughly 50 to 60 kids per day with five staff members (including herself) during the summer months.”
“We also operate the Round Valley School District’s summer breakfast and lunch program,” informs Bowler. “The kids have a blast. We set up here at Ramsey Park because it has a full kitchen. Together, the staff and the kids make pancakes, french toast, fresh squeezed orange juice and whatever fresh fruit is in season at the time.”
Ramsey Park is the hub of Eagar and just across the street from the Boys and Girls Club facility, so they also use it as a staging area for many of their summer activities, said Bowler.
“Our job is to make summer exiting,” Bowler says when describing the summer Boys and Girls Club calendar. “There’s only 18 summers until you are a grown-up so summer should be fun!”
The club also offers programs during the school year from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and all day on Fridays since Round Valley has a four-day school week.
The Boys and Girls Club daily schedule includes Science Technology Art and Mathematics (STEAM) projects, Brain Gain, Health Habits, Character Development, snacks, outside activities, playground time and free time.
Each week has a theme that the activities follow. For example, June 10-14 is “Water Rock Cycle” which includes “Rock Slime” for grades K-3 and “Cloud in a Jar” for grades 4-5.
During the same week, “Creatures of the Deep” is designed for grades 6+ and “Energy Camp” at Tucson Electric Power for grades 6-8.
The “Energy Camp” is the result of a partnership with Tucson Electric Power in Springerville and Navopache Electric Cooperative. “Kids will be introduced to electricity produced with water, nuclear and solar power,” says Bowler. “They will learn about the power grid and even be able to create a hypothetical problem at the power plant and work together to solve the issue.”
Believe it or not, this list only includes two days’ worth of activities. The week of June 17-21 is called “All About Earth” and includes “Stained Glass Earth,” “Culinary Arts Club,” “Crawdad Searching” and the second session at Tucson Electric Power’s “Energy Camp.”
Bowler says that the club is currently developing a “Builders Camp” club which will revolve around teaching kids computer drafting through drawing, building with Legos, creating snap circuits and then building again based on their designs.
And that’s not all. There are still a few open spots left in the one-week Grand Canyon Field Trip for 6-8 grade students.
“We are able to offer this camp for a total of 24 students thanks to a grant from Tucson Electric Power,” explains Bowler.
Bowler describes her philosophy with children and young adults as a pipeline that children move through.
“The pipe that surrounds kids from childhood to young adulthood is like a protective wrapping built with their family and community,” explains Bowler. “Together, we all wrap around the child to help them in their journey through the pipeline to adulthood.”
Finally, Bowler said that the Boys and Girls Clubs work without state funding of any type. Instead, they are funded through private donations, tax credits, grants and support from the community and local businesses.
The Round Valley Boys and Girls Club is located at 216 E. 2nd Avenue in Eagar and can be reached at 928-333-7824 or by visiting their website at www.rvbgc.com.