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Camas School District to take over JWR Center

Boys & Girls Club of Portland has run Jack, Will and Rob Club for 14 years

By , Columbian Staff Writer
Published:
3 Photos
Students head Feb. 10 into the Jack, Will and Rob Club in Camas, where operations will transfer from the Boys & Girls Club of Portland to the Camas School District, which owns the center, starting in June. The Boys & Girls Club has operated there for the last 14 years.
Students head Feb. 10 into the Jack, Will and Rob Club in Camas, where operations will transfer from the Boys & Girls Club of Portland to the Camas School District, which owns the center, starting in June. The Boys & Girls Club has operated there for the last 14 years. (Natalie Behring for the Columbian) Photo Gallery

CAMAS — The Boys & Girls Club of Portland will no longer operate the Jack, Will and Rob Center in Camas after this school year is through, ending a 14-year relationship with the Camas School District, which owns the center.

The club will close in May for already-scheduled renovations. It is expected to open in September, and the school district will take over as operator of the after-school club.

“The need here in Portland has been increasing in east county and south in Clackamas County,” Traci Rose, chief advancement officer for Boys & Girls Club of Portland, said. “As we’ve been looking at that, we’ve been having conversations on where we are and where we’re not.”

Rose said there had been discussions recently about focusing more on the Portland area.

The Boys & Girls Club of Portland operates six clubs, and the Camas location is its only club outside of Oregon. When the school district announced the center would close after May for renovations, Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland officials felt it was a good time to separate.

“It just seemed like that would be a really good time for us to transition back over to this side of the river,” Rose said.

The club serves students ages 6-18 from Camas and Washougal. The clubs offer mentorship and guidance, homework help, academic support and opportunities for students to engage in art and sports, Rose said. Some also have music. There are also teen programs which offers workplace training and a chance to learn how to put together a r?sum?.

“What we look to do is pick up where the schools leave off, help them with their schoolwork and provide them with the activities they might not get at school,” Rose said.

Students also get a hot meal and, for longer days, like clubs over spring or summer break, the students get multiple meals and snacks.

The Camas club has 250 members this year, and on a typical day, the program has 120-170 members, said Amber Barnes, director of the Jack, Will and Rob Center for the last three years. The club has two full-time employees and seven-part time employees. Usually, there is another full-time employee, Barnes said.

Camas School District Spokeswoman Doreen McKercher said the district will form an advisory committee to discuss how to best serve students who use the club and where else in the district has a need for services the club offered. McKercher said a few parents of students in the club currently approached the district about joining the committee.

The cost of the district-run after-school club is still up in the air, McKercher said. Members currently pay $5 a year for membership. Some of the money for operating the club will come from a legacy fund, which pays $70,000 a year to operate the center. McKercher said the district will discuss how much else is needed to operate and staff the club.

McKercher said the district has some other after-school options already, including Extended Day, which is run through the Community Education program, where students can learn about such topics as robotics, coding and sewing and receive training in babysitting and CPR.

The district also started talking to other local agencies about finding a place for students in the club to go this summer, during the time when the club will get a new roof, carpet and interior painting. The Jack, Will and Rob Center program typically ran through the summer, and district officials are searching for a way to fill the gap between June and the center reopening in September.

“We are hoping to be able to fill that need, we just don’t know what that looks like right now,” McKercher said.

Barnes said she’ll be sad to leave, and she’s hopeful she can come back to visit next year. She said she’s sure the district will do best by the students.

“The center will definitely live on in the spirit it was built in, to honor Jack, Will and Rob,” Barnes said.

The club, which opened in 2002, was named after Jack, Will and Rob Warren, who died in a plane crash in November 1999. Jack, Will and Rob were 14, 13 and 9 years old, respectively, when they died. The boys’ mother, Geri Pope Bidwell, led fundraising efforts to build the $5.3 million club.

Columbian Staff Writer
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