In-Person Youth Activities Resume at Citadel and North Corps after a Year-long Hiatus
Every Wednesday evening approximately 35 to 40 kids, ages kindergarten through 12th grade, gather masked and socially distant at Citadel Corps to connect, engage in character-building activities and enjoy dinner, music instruction and gym time.
“After a year of connecting over Zoom, it’s been a relief and a joy to be together again,” said Maj. Shelley McClintock. “It’s fun to see how much taller the kids are; they’ve grown so much over the past year.”
The kids are also thrilled to be back to a somewhat normal routine after a year of uncertainty and disconnection. On a recent Wednesday, Citadel Corps was abuzz with activity as 15 middle school and high school girls worked on a painting project in one classroom, a half-dozen boys made hats and ties out of duct tape in another room, and a dozen or so younger kids played basketball and “Simon Says” in the gym. Later, the groups converged in the chapel for a devotion and then split into smaller groups again for music lessons and band practice.
“I was excited to find out we were coming back,” said Rebecca, age 18, a high school senior who has been part of Citadel’s Youth Development program for the past 13 years. “Getting to be around the other girls and connect with them is great. They are like my family, and I missed them.”
Margie, age 12, a sixth grader who plays the trumpet with the Citadel brass band, agrees. “It’s so nice to be back,” she said. “I missed it all – dinner, the Girl Guards, the music, everything.”
“They are so eager to re-engage,” said Maj. Shelley. “We get a lot of calls on Wednesday afternoons from kids who want to make sure youth activities are still happening.”
Youth programs are also ramping up again at North Corps, with the after-school program serving approximately 60 youth from elementary through high school. Kids rotate in small groups through various activities, including the gym, the game room, a homework help station, holistic activities like yoga and, for middle schoolers and high schoolers, Coalition X, which focuses on drug awareness. Mask-wearing is enforced, and in smaller spaces like the classrooms and the chapel, kids are encouraged to space out their seating to maintain a safe distance from each other.
In addition to the after-school program, North Corps is launching five competitive basketball teams this spring and summer for middle school and high school players. North Corps Community Center Director Josh Jones is also restarting the ABCDevelopment basketball program for elementary kids, which was paused last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a really hard year,” admits Capt. Sam Nolan Jones. “We’ve kept our doors open whenever possible over the past year, while also trying to keep everyone safe, so we’ve tried to balance the risks. But now I’m getting excited for what’s ahead as we continue to ramp up our programs. It’s nice to be able to breathe again.”
For more information about The Salvation Army’s youth development programs in the Omaha metro, please visit our Empower Youth webpage.