The Boys & Girls Clubs of Watertown is an everyday, after-school program for youth, which focuses on improving academic success, developing good character and citizenship, and establishing healthy lifestyles. It is open and accessible to ALL youth and directly serves youth who otherwise would not have a chance to experience such enriching programs due to prohibitive costs or family culture. The Boys & Girls Club of Watertown serves youth ages 3-18, in Watertown and the surrounding communities including youth from Clark, Hamlin and Deuel Counties.
Established in 1973, the Boys & Girls Club of Watertown has evolved from a juvenile diversion program serving boys out of a vacant downtown store, into a highly visible youth development program inspiring over 2,500 girls and boys annually. From 1973 through 1984 the Boys & Girls Club served its purpose of keeping kids busy and out of trouble at its downtown location. In 1984, the Board of Directors raised $526,000 in order to construct a new facility adjacent to the high school and indoor swimming pool. This facility not only housed the Boys & Girls Club, but also included a community fitness facility operated by the City.
For ten years the new facility was adequate. But as community needs increased, the usage of the Boys & Girls Club grew from 101 youth per day in 1993 to over 133 per day in 1997. This growth coupled with a need for a place for teens to gather was the driving force for the expansion that was completed in 1998. The $1.8 million expansion included a Teen Center, gymnasium, youth locker rooms, running track, offices and an early childhood development area.
Arrow Prep began at the Main Club Site at the start of the 2001 school year to provide a kindergarten preparation program for 3 through 5 year olds. This program allows the facility to be utilized while school age youth are in school during the day.
Not only has the Boys & Girls Club grown on-site, but also in the number of sites programs offered as well. The Boys & Girls Club administers programs in each of the elementary schools during the school year, as well as a summer program at one elementary school. This program is called Kidscope. Many parents enjoy the convenience of having services in their neighborhood.
The organization still serves the economically disadvantaged youth with affordable programming, but now also serves families that have both parents working and need quality programs for their kids. Over the last 45 years, the organization has grown into a high quality youth development program providing child care programs, early childhood development programs, and teenage programming to youth in eight different locations across the community.