Boys & Girls Club summer activities are currently underway in Athens.

The program, which includes a number of academic, social and recreational activities for youth, started Monday and ends Aug. 2.

The summer program is available for children ages 5 to 18 in Limestone County, and children are grouped according to their age. Program fees are $55 per week and include a cold lunch and a snack.

The Boys & Girls Club of Athens-Limestone County will be open for children from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The teen center is open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Teens who arrive early help around the club.

Fees for early-bird arrivals start at 7 a.m. and are $2 a day (cash).

Late pickup is at 6 p.m. and is also $2 a day (cash).

Director Duane LaRue started with the Boys & Girls Club in August 2018.

“This is my first summer program,” LaRue said. “I'm looking forward to seeing all the new faces.”

LaRue said he wasn't part of the Boys & Girls Club program growing up, but came up in a youth center with similar values and beliefs.

“It always motivated me,” he said. “I want to give back to the community.”

He reminisced about his days in the program and the things he remembers. He said he wants to help create similar memories for the Boys & Girls Club youth this summer.

“As you take the journey through life, you don't realize the steps you are taking to prepare you to do other things,” LaRue said.

Each day, kids can take part in a number of activities. The club recently opened at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Lab.

LaRue believes the lab is great for the Boys & Girls Club.

There is also a HERO program, a transitional program that helps younger children become more acclimated to STEM, LaRue said.

On Tuesdays, some of the students will visit Athens-Limestone Public Library and swim at the Athens Recreation Center.

On Thursdays, students will get the opportunity to watch a $1 movie at Cinemark in the Bridge Street Town Centre.

This year, the Boys & Girls Club is creating a choir for students ages 8 to 12.

“It's something different,” LaRue said. “I'm excited about it.”

He hopes even more kids get excited about the Boys & Girls Club in Athens.

“I think it's a great opportunity,” LaRue said, adding he wants more people in the community to know about the Boys & Girls Club. He wants families to know the club offers a variety of programs and also teaches social skills, how to deal with different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, dealing with bullying and more.

“We teach values and morals they can carry throughout life,” he said.

LaRue said he enjoys what he does. He doesn't think of it as a job, but as an opportunity to help mold young lives. He wants to help create a culture of fun and learning.

The Boys & Girls Club of Athens-Limestone County is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama, which includes 12 clubs. The mission of the club is to inspire and enable all young people — especially those who need it most — to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

The Athens Boys & Girls Club is at 1017 W. Washington St. in Athens.

To find out more, visit www.bgcnal.com or call 256-232-4298.