The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club Summer Day Camp is up and running in a brand new center in Conway and looking for more children to participate in the first and second grade and fifth and sixth grade groups. It’s a situation that has been a long time coming for the group, which has worked for more than a decade to get the center built.
Brenda Ryan, director of social services for the Salvation Army, says there are now 19 openings, although there is a waiting list in the third- and fourth-grade ages. “We’re growing every single day,” Ryan says, with 31 children enrolled as of Tuesday. The program has a capacity of 50.
Summer Day Camp is the inaugural program in the new $1.6 million center opened a couple of weeks ago in the Salvation Army complex on Second Avenue that includes the church and fellowship hall. “It’s such a blessing,” Ryan says of the new center. “We’re very excited about it.”
“Lights, Camera, Action” is the theme for this week’s summer camp, and the children are working on plays as part of their experience. Structured activities include physical education, music and journal writing. This week, a North Carolina church group visited Monday, today and Friday. Parents drop off their children starting at 7:30 a.m. and pick them up by 5:30 p.m. Like other Boys & Girls Clubs, children are given a variety of experiences, including a weekly field trip. The summer day camp includes lunch and a snack. The five-day program costs $50 a week and the three-day program $30 a week. Tuition assistance is available.
It’s much more than inexpensive day care for children. The Boys & Girls Clubs mission is teaching character, leadership, health and life skills, arts and the importance of fitness and recreation.
The new center was a dream deferred when a 2001 capital funds drive fizzled after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. The drive raised $650,000 and that was in the bank.
Capt. Bret McElroy, corps officers for the Salvation Army in Horry County, put the building plan back in play when he took leadership of the Salvation Army. Prior to the official opening, McElroy said, “This building is only possible because of the generosity and support from people in the community.”
In another change, the Salvation Army is preparing to move its Conway Family Store to 1029 Third Ave., at the corner of Third Avenue and Laurel Street. Administrative and social services offices will move to the Third and Laurel building from 1400 Church Street. The store presently is at 1502 Fourth Ave. Laurie Suprano, family stores operations director, says the new store location will be about half the space of the present store and will save leasing costs.
A grand opening at the Third and Laurel location is planned Aug. 2, one of the “Alive After Five” nights in Conway when stores and shops stay open later. The Salvation Army also has stores in Murrells Inlet, North Myrtle Beach and Loris. The stores generate revenue for Salvation Army programs.
It’s all part of a growing and welcome effort by a group on the Strand that continues to show its caring and loving nature.