It may look like members are simply enjoying a treat, but there’s more going on during Smoothie Fridays at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Goshen Clubhouse.
Middle school teens are making the healthy treats as a way to learn about community service and to develop other life skills in their Torch Club program.
Torch Club is a small-group leadership and service program for boys and girls ages 11-13. Torch Club members learn to work together to implement activities in four areas: service to Club and community, education, health and fitness and social recreation.
“We used to do Smoothie Fridays before the pandemic. I thought it would be a fun idea to bring it back,” said Goshen Club Teen Coordinator Da’Jah Frye. “I hope they develop life skills. They don’t always have to want fast food. They can go for healthy options, too.”
Right now, 10 middle school teens are heading up the program. Each Friday they set up an order area with menu options. Other members and staff place their order and after dinner, the Torch Club members prepare the smoothies and deliver them around Club.
“I’m learning more of the people at Club. I’m going to more of the rooms and learning their names as I deliver them,” said Olive, a Torch Club member. “They say ‘thank you’ when they get their delivery, and if I stay long enough for them to try them I get to see their reactions. They usually say they like them.”
Members are making an average of 75 smoothies a week. They’re free to other members to stress the value of community service.
“I love that they’re doing this,” said Kylie Hutton, a staff member at the Club. “We didn’t really have things like this the past couple of years in the teen center so it’s nice to see this happening again.”
Goshen Area Director Fidel Mireles said the goal is to have programs like this build upon each other to prepare members for the future.
“I want them to learn about teamwork and cooperation. This is one of our pipeline programs for workforce development. They are learning basic skills they can take with them to our other programs down the road,” he said.
He’s also pleased that it brings a popular event back to the members.
“It fits into our leadership and healthy lifestyle initiative at Club, but I knew it would be a big hit because it was a Goshen Club tradition we were able to hold onto and bring back,” Mireles said.
Frye said Torch Club members have other projects planned. In the next few weeks, they’ll begin planning a Halloween party for the younger members — stressing the importance of budgets and responsibility. They’re also planning college visits later in the year.