Our History

1919

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.’

1924

At the October 26, 1924 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Wilmington Community Service, a committee consisting of Judge Nields, Chairman, Judge Prickett and Mr. John P. Root, Executive Secretary, was set up to draw up the constitution for the organization. The committee submitted a copy of the proposed constitution on April 2, 1925. A motion to send a copy to members of the Board for input before final adoption passed. The constitution was adopted on May 26, 1925.

1926

According to the 1944-45 Boys Clubs of Wilmington Annual Report: “The Boys’ Club of Wilmington began its work in the fall of 1926 when the third floor of the Queen Theatre building on Market Street was rented and made into recreation rooms for boys. C.B. Root was in charge. The project was sponsored by Community Service. In December of 1927, the space was enlarged to include the fourth floor of the same building. By this time over 500 boys were members. The officers of the organization were: Mrs. Coleman duPont, President; Honorable John P. Nields, Chairman; and D.C. Aspril, Treasurer.”

1928

In March, 1928, the offer made by the Boys’ Club Federation of America to provide a member of their staff to make a study of Wilmington to explore possibilities of a location for a permanent Boys’ Club headquarters was accepted. Accordingly, Mr. C.J. Atkinson, Executive Secretary of the Boys’ Club Federation of America, addressed the Board of Directors of the Community Service and informed them of the scope of work carried out by the organization. He encouraged the Community Service to expand the activities of the Boys’ Club work conducted on the third and fourth floors of the Queen Theatre Building in Wilmington. In September 1928, the Boys’ Club enrollment was 450. A total of 1592 children had enrolled in the various activities including Summer Playgrounds, Ukulele classes in public schools and sports activities.

1930

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.

1931

In the fall of 1931, the Wilmington Community Service incorporated as the Boys’ Club of Wilmington, Delaware, and in December of 1932 moved to the old Bethany Baptist Church at Jackson and Elm Streets. The Boys’ Club was perceived as a ‘continuation school’ and aimed to promote the welfare of boys and to provide them with opportunities for positive growth. An increase in the time spent at the club meant that the children spent less time in destructive gang activities. The Club reported in 1935 that in the neighborhood of the Club “a decrease in street disturbances such as breaking milk bottles, tearing down fences, breaking windows, etc.” were reported. Vocational training in activities such as woodwork and typewriting had been instrumental in securing employment for some members. A large percentage of the Club members came from poorer homes, had single parents, were orphans or were from broken homes.

1941-1945

The Club building was used as a casualty center, emergency feeding station, and immunization clinic and the summer camp was designated as an evacuation center. Members were educated in air raid precautions; model construction classes made airplanes, boats, ships, tanks, and trucks. Newsletters were sent to Servicemen to keep them up to date on local and club news and service kits (package of games for leisure time) were sent to men in Service. The camp programs included instruction on swimming and lifesaving, use of small arms (approved by Director of Civilian marksmanship), and physical conditioning activities. Mr. Clarence Fraim represented the Club at the War Fund Board.

1947

In 1947, Mr. Dwight B. Early became Executive Director, following Dr. Alfred Kamm’s leadership in that position. Mr. Early served until November 19, 1948. A former staff, Mrs. Victor Caille, was employed as Acting Executive Director, on a temporary basis starting 22 November. At the meeting on February 24, 1949, Mr. Clarence K. Xander, the new Executive Director was introduced.

1949

In 1949, the H. Fletcher Brown Club opened at 17th and Church Streets. Mr. Xander expressed the need of starting a fine arts department, a music appreciation program and some form of dramatics-an increase in cultural activities.  The Club has instituted many awards over the years. For example, The IBM Club, wrote on Feb 15, 1954 that they would present an award to the outstanding boy of the year. The award was a week-end trip for the boy and a chaperone to New York City. Tallman in a letter dated May 19, 1958, gifted 100 shares of duPont Common Stock to establish the Tallman Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships to “worthy boys from Wilmington and its suburbs who seek to carry on their education further after graduating from high school.”
Club membership that was 833 in 1935, rose to 1,847 by 1957. In 1964, and to 1,899 in 1964.

1955

In 1955, Camp Mattahoon received a gift of 95 acres of adjoining land from S. Hallock duPont. This increased the Camp area to 160 acres. Over the years the camp facilities were enhanced and many new programs included. The camp also experienced financial difficulties and after many decades of constructive activities, it was decided to sell the camp property in the late 1970s. The property was sold in parts and all property sold in 1980.

1971

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.

1977

On December 5, 1977 a non-discrimination policy was passed to not exclude girls from becoming members. This was a response to a request by United Way to reaffirm the nondiscrimination policy.

1980's

The organization expanded in the 1980s by opening the New Castle Club in the Rose Hill Community Center in 1982, and the Claymont Club in the Claymont Community Center in 1986.

1990

George Krupanski who was serving as Northeast Regional Director for Boys Clubs of America was hired as the Executive Director. When George Krupanski became Executive Director, he said that the work done by the Club touched the lives of thousands of young people and that this work was worth doing. Under his leadership, the organization has expanded and grown considerably.

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.

1997

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 Greater Newark Boys & Girls Club opened in 1994 and is the largest of all the Club houses.  In 1997 the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club in Seaford opened its doors and 11 years later the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club opened.