What began as The Wilmington Community Service evolved into what is today the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware. The Wilmington Community Service (WCS) first met in 1919 with the goals of cooperating and coordinating the activities of existing community service agencies. Mrs. Coleman DuPont, President of WCS, said, “We owe every child a chance to play in a safe and happy environment.” The organization aimed to promote playgrounds for ‘wholesome recreation’ that included promoting ‘health, safety and character.’
In 1930, the club purchased 65 acres of land near Marshallton located about eight miles from the headquarters. Alfred Kamm, said in his 1945-46 report that the camp was called Camp Mattahoon, “after the Indian Chief from whom, it is said, the early settlers bought land which is now part of Wilmington.” Camp activities included craft shop, games and sports, woodcraft and nature, and riflery. Special events including camp fire programs and sports contests. “When it comes to fun, health building, self-development, learning of skills, knowledge and habits, there is nothing better than camping for a boy. More good guidance in behavior and attitudes can be offered a boy in two weeks of camping under proper leadership, than in practically a whole club season,” Kamm said in 1945-46 report.
Club membership that was 833 in 1935, rose to 1,847 by 1957. In 1964, and to 1,899 in 1964.
In 1971, changing attendance patterns were noted. At the Jackson Street Club 85 to 90 percent of the members were African American in the spring but during the fall about 50 percent of the members attending were White. There was also an increase in the number of Spanish speaking boys joining the club. In 1972, the Clarence Fraim Senior Center was opened.
The success behind the organization can to a large part be attributed to the generous time and assistance given by various people in the community. Many of the board members and officers served for decades in the organization. For example, Mrs. Coleman duPont and Mrs. Pierre S. duPont played a key role for many years especially in the formative years. Maurice DuPont Lee passed away on Jan 2, 1974. He was on the Board of Directors since February 24, 1949. Harry W. Lunger, member since Feb 24, 1949, continued through April 22, 1965 when he was elected honorary member. Geoffrey S. Garstin-member from Feb 25, 1958 until his passing on Aug 26, 1976. Joe Dulin retired in January, 1990. In recent years, Stuart Sharkey, Charles Gummey, and Barbara Washam have been mainstays on the Board of Directors and instrumental in the continued growth and evolution of the organization.
Starting in 1990, all the Clubs’ facilities were open to girls and in 1992 the organization acquired it’s current name, Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware. A number of Clubs and School Sites were opened throughout the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, including a youth center at Dover Air Force Base.
Today there are over 40 locations serving all counties in Delaware. More than 30,000 boys and girls are served annually.
In an effort to provide services for more children, Boys & Girls Club of Delaware School Site Child Care Program (SSCCP) was established in 1997 with three school sites in the Christina School District: the Henry M. Brader and Jennie E. Smith Elementary Schools and the Bayard Early Childhood Center.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware School Site Child Care Program (SSCCP) offers children, parents, and school staff and administrators a combination of unique benefits unmatched In Delaware. Among distinctive features are:
- Full-time professionals with degrees in Education at every school site.
- National Boys & Girls Clubs of America curriculum programs that have been designed and rigorously researched and tested by leading academicians and funded by major corporations throughout the country.
- Curriculum that is aligned with Department of Education K-12 standards.
- No limitation on enrollment; staffing based on Office of Child Care Licensing standards and number of children in program.
- In-service days, holiday breaks, and Summer Fun Clubs located on school premises to minimize disruption for parents and students.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware SSCCP began to partner with school districts throughout the state, with Summer Fun Club programs introduced as added benefits to the school site program during out of school summer months.
Late 1990's into Early 2000's
The organization started in a small way but in the last 86 years has grown into largest licensed provider of before-school and after-school care in the state and one of the most important institutions in Delaware.