Club offers recreational alternative
Enthusiastic volunteers and community support have helped the Pioneer Club at First Baptist Church of Basehor get off to a roaring start.
When the program was initiated in September, organizers expected 30 children and hoped 40 would attend. More than 60 children attended the first session.
Currently, 84 children from Basehor, Linwood, Tonganoxie, Bonner Springs, Easton, and Kansas City, KS are enrolled in the program.
"I'm very happy that we have the program at First Baptist Church," Stephanie Espinoza, program director said. "Obviously, there's a need for this in the community. The high number of registrants we have signals that parents want such programs."
Pioneer Club is a youth outreach ministry for children who attend church and for those who don't. The program offers an alternative for kids who want to do something in a group setting and perhaps don't have an interest in sports, dance or other school activities.
Pioneer Club provides opportunities to apply biblical teachings in everyday life in a fun way, said Angie Payne, assistant program director.
The program curriculum is non-denominational. Each session begins with dinner. Pat Young, cooking coordinator, plans menus and schedules volunteers to cook and serve dinners.
Participants, ranging in age from two to 14, divide into five age groups for activities. They earn badges for a variety of topics including self-defense, self-esteem building, photography, cooking and genealogy.
The group is adopting a family through BLAS. Older youths can attend a summer camp in Warsaw, MO.
"We have wonderful and dedicated teachers," Payne said.
She explained there are an average of 24 adults at each session.
Cost to attend the Pioneer Club is 50 cents for dinner. When the group became larger than anticipated, dinner costs were higher than planned. As a result, Payne contacted Price Chopper in Bonner Springs to get information about a We are Community voucher program. The Pioneer Club was the first group to participate in the program. The group earned $225 and succeeded in keeping fees at 50 cents. As part of "We Are Community", Charlie Krumme, Price Chopper employee, facilitated a cooking class for the group by demonstrating how to make taco soup.
"It's very exciting to see we have so many people willing to donate time, energy and even money to ensure the success of the program," Payne said.
The Pioneer Club is a nationwide program established 65 years ago.
Pastor Gale Mack, First Baptist Church, explained there are other Awana Clubs, but this is the only Pioneer Club initiated in the area.
"We're very thankful to the community for entrusting their children to us for two hours on Wednesdays. We're trying to introduce children to the
Lord," Mack said.
Due to space restrictions, registration for the Pioneer Club will close Dec. 20. The group meets from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays during the school year.
"We literally can't hold any more children because of space restrictions," Mack said.
Plans for expansion at First Baptist Church were underway before the
Pioneer Club began. An educational wing will be added to northwest side of the existing building. Architectural drawings are complete and fundraising for the project is underway. Mack said the church wanted to raise at least $150,00 before construction begins. To date, the church has raised $126,000. Total cost estimate for the project is $500,000. No construction dates are set.
For more information about Pioneer Club, call 724-1908. For more information about "We are Community", call Laura Danieri, Price Chopper community relations director, at 461-1022, or stop by and pick up an application at the store.