Boys & Girls clubs have 7 units in White Earth
A remodeled Boys and Girls Club in Callaway is now open, and will serve more than 100 youngsters in a 15-mile radius.
The club opened in the former Manitok wild rice building, which years ago used to be a lumberyard, said Tim Reiplinger, chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the White Earth Reservation.
"We remodeled the first and second floor of the building and turned it into our Boys and Girls Club," he said.
In the future, the club may also renovate the third and fourth floors and possibly the garage area to better serve the kids, he added.
It's part of a Boys and Girls Club expansion that has grown to include seven sites on the White Earth Reservation since the first Boys and Girls Club was founded in Naytahwaush in 2002.
The other clubs are in the village of White Earth, Pine Point, Mahnomen, Rice Lake and Elbow Lake -- though the Elbow Lake site is not a chartered Boys and Girls Club, since it does not have at least 100 members.
"Elbow Lake is a real small village," Reiplinger said, "but it's treated as a boys and girls club unit -- we treat it the same."
After the Naytahwaush site was founded in 2002, the Pine Point club followed in 2006, then the Mahnomen site.
"It just kind of progressed in the reservation," Reiplinger said.
It helped that the tribal recreation service merged with the boys and girls clubs in 2007 to provide unduplicated services.
Most of the clubs are located in tribally-owned buildings, such as the sports complex in Naytahwaush, though the Mahnomen site is in a privately-owned building.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of the White Earth Reservation employ from 20 to 25 people, depending on the season.
"It's all under the White Earth umbrella -- the tribe puts in quite a bit of funding for it," and staff are considered tribal employees, Reiplinger said.
"It's a safe place for kids to be," he said, "and it's really diverse -- we have after-school tutoring and Power Hour to help with homework, though they can do anything that stimulates their minds -- read a book, work a crossword puzzle, play Boggle..."
In the summertime the program is open from noon to 5 p.m., and offers two meals a day.
During the school year the clubs are open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Meals are not offered, though Reiplinger said they're working on a grant to help pay for food service.
Arts, crafts and cultural enrichment are also offered at the clubs, and an annual powwow is held at a different village every year, he said.
"Each community gets the chance to host that," Reiplinger added.
Sports and recreation are also big at the clubs, with basketball and social recreation sports very popular with the kids.
There is a diabetes prevention program that teaches healthy eating and exercise habits, and leadership and community service programs are also offered -- the kids do roadside pickup and community cleanup work to give back to the community that supports them, Reiplinger said.
There is a program to help strengthen girls emotionally, and there are alcohol and tobacco prevention programs.
"If people have questions or comments on how to get their kids involved, they can call me," Reiplinger said.
His number is 1-218-935-5554. The phone number for the Callaway Boys and Girls Club is 218-375-2220.