Want to go mountain biking, learn martial arts, climb or skate? BEACON has you covered! How about trying yoga, learning how to cook, or playing an instrument? You can do that too!
We ourselves haven’t done all of that, but we are here to tell you about the BEACON Afterschool Program, a program that has clubs for children and teenagers. We have been in multiple BEACONS including newspaper, Spanish, art and knitting.
When I (Flint) was in the third grade, I was in a newspaper club. I loved that BEACON club. I wrote many articles for the newspaper, such as an article called “Earthquake Shakes Moab” about the human-made earthquake that happened when people in Bedrock, Colo., were drilling. That was my favorite BEACON.
My brother, Ryder, is in two clubs this fall called Dungeon Explorers and Mountain Biking. I am in the Mountain Biking club too and we go biking with professional guides. I asked my mom, who is volunteering with the club, what she liked about it.
“I think it’s a neat way for local kids to get outside and learn how to do some of the same activities, like climbing and biking, that tourists travel to Moab in order to experience,” she said.
We asked some other kids what they think about BEACON. Skyler Ryser, a fifth-grader, said that his favorite club was Mountain Biking. When asked why it was his favorite, he said that it’s because you learn new skills and try new things and it’s fun! Skyler plans to keep biking and hopes to ride the Whole Enchilada trail in a few years.
Theo Weissinger, also a fifth-grader, said he hoped to do mountain biking or rock climbing clubs in the future. His brother Owen, who is in third grade, said “A Star Wars club would be cool...”
Rosalie VanStone, who is in first grade, went to a lot of clubs in kindergarten last year and said they were good. She says that she liked the art projects best.
Rosalie’s mom, Cathy, owns Desert Thread, a yarn store in Moab. She taught us how to knit during second grade in a BEACON club. She’s a good knitter.
BEACON is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year. It started in 2005. Between six hundred and seven hundred people usually attend at least one club each year, with an average of one hundred sixty clubs, according to www.moabbeacon.net.
We learned about BEACON’s early days from our mom’s friend Sarah Bauman, who co-created the original program. She told me that Taryn Kay, who used to be the principal at Helen M. Knight Elementary and is now Grand County School District Superintendent, came up with the acronym for BEACON: Building Essential Assets through Community Outreach and Networking. Sarah said BEACON is a “tremendous community asset.”
“It was an intense experience both putting BEACON together and launching it - taking what was on paper and making it a reality,” she said. She also said that many of the original concepts of BEACON are still going on today, which she thinks is very cool, and that Rob Magelby, who was hired in 2005, still works at BEACON today! He is the STEM coordinator.
BEACON works with local nonprofits to offer clubs at other locations, such as the Moab Multicultural Center, the Youth Garden Project, and Grand County Public Library. We talked to Mary Adair, who works at the library and who has led several clubs. She said her favorite one has been the Harry Potter club. We were both in that club in the second grade. In it, we made wands, potions and other Harry Potter-themed things. Mary told us that she noticed that kids started reading the Harry Potter books more after the club. Sadly, there are not any library BEACONS currently. Hopefully, they will return next year.
BEACON has something for everybody! There are many, many very fun clubs. We encourage you to try a club for yourself and see how it goes. If you’re not a kid, then you could lead a club! Or help out in some other way. We recommend BEACON to YOU!!
Flint and Ryder Woodbury-Lugers are fifth-grade students at Helen M. Knight Elementary. They are the sons of Jenna Woodbury and Brian Lugers. They have participated in the BEACON Afterschool program for five years.