Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
A young girl accepts a youth award

Parents agree: Youth programs = lifelong benefits (video)

Added on Thursday, June 16, 2016

(Watch video) – Parents in Minnesota and North Dakota agree: The Salvation Army helps give kids the tools they need to become stand-up adults.

Kids learn in youth groupYear-round, children of all ages attend our youth programs and learn the virtues of hard work, kindness, and honesty.

Some of the programs also “teach kids everyday life skills they don’t always learn in school – cooking, cleaning, and etiquette,” said parent Erin Carlson, whose 13-year-old son and two of her three daughters, ages 6 and 11, attend youth programs at The Salvation Army in Brainerd, Minn. “I love The Salvation Army.”

Most of The Salvation Army’s 26 Worship and Service Centers in Minnesota and North Dakota offer one or more of the following: after-school programs, all-day summer programs, and weeknight ministries.

Youth board a busThe summer programs are happening right now. At the Payne Ave. Salvation Army in St. Paul, for example, youth leader Wanda Fleur and staff members spend every weekday with about 25 elementary-age children. Together they eat good food, play fun games and sports, and learn Bible lessons. They take several field trips per week (pictured) to places like zoos, water parks, and museums.

“Even on a bad day, I love this job,” Fleur said.

The program’s daily cost to parents is about $35 per child, with scholarships available. These low rates, made possible by donations to The Salvation Army’s youth programs, are a boon to working parents struggling to get by in a world where daycare costs can easily surpass $50 per day.

That includes parents like Marianna, a single mom who enrolled her son, Damien, in youth programs at the Payne Ave. Salvation Army some years ago.

These programs “allowed me to take a second job,” Marianna said.

Eventually, the extra money Marianna earned through her second job allowed Damien to enroll at a private high school in St. Paul.

Salvation Army after-school programs provide the same types of activities as summer programs, but operate for fewer hours and typically do not include field trips.

The following video offers a closer look at Salvation Army summer programs:

Northwoods Camp, sports clinics

Children who attend our summer and after-school programs in Minnesota and North Dakota are eligible to spend a week at Salvation Army Northwoods Camp in Finlayson, Minn. There they discover the wonders of nature through fishing, horseback riding, campfires, and more. (Read more about what camp is like.)

Miriam and her kidsA Twin Cities mother named Miriam loves Northwoods Camp so much that she plans her three kids’ summer around it.

“When my kids come home from camp, they come home fulfilled – both spiritually and socially,” said Miriam, pictured with her kids.

A girl shoots a basketParents in Duluth, Minn., have another summer option: The Salvation Army Rookie Basketball Association, which offers all-day basketball clinics for kids in grades K–6, along with year-round leagues.

Parent Keavin Bostrom enrolled his son, Nick, in Rookie Basketball about ten years ago. Nick went on to become a three-sport varsity athlete – including basketball – and is now planning to study and play football at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth this fall. (Learn more about Keavin and Nick.)

Through Rookie Basketball, “Nick learned teamwork and the value of helping others achieve their own success,” Keavin said. “He learned to work hard, to give it your all.”

Weeknight ministries

Girls in Sunbeams programMany Salvation Army locations offer weeknight “character-building” programs for kids of all ages. This includes Salvation Army-branded programs such as Sunbeams (girls, grades one through five), Girl Guards (grades six through 12), and Rangers (boys, grades six through 12).

It also can include Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs. Boy Scouts of America partners with Salvation Army locations across the U.S. to establish and nurture Scout units within the Christian outreach ministry of The Salvation Army.

Parent Kathy Patterson has three boys enrolled in Boy Scout programs at the Brainerd Salvation Army. She’s also a lead instructor for Sunbeams, helping young girls to grown into strong young women.

“A few of the girls don’t have moms in the picture,” Patterson said. “It’s nice to be that mother figure.”

Preston-guitar-300x200She’s proud of her boys and their accomplishments in Boy Scouts, including her oldest son, Preston (pictured), 16, who is attempting to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout. For his Eagle Scout project, he wants to build 10 ice skating aids and donate them to local ice rinks. He has attended youth programs at the Brainerd Salvation Army ever since he can remember.

“It’s fun to just come here, relax, and talk to people,” said Preston, who enjoys music and wants to attend college for vocal education.

To learn more about Salvation Army youth programs, or to enroll your child, contact your local Salvation Army in the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota, or North Dakota.

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support youth programs in your local community.