Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito youth stay active with virtual services

Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito stays connected over Zoom.

From virtual basketball practice to Zoom music jams, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito is officially online. Staff from the athletics, music, and afterschool programs have been using innovative, virtual approaches to keeping members active and learning during school and activity closures.

“We wanted to give our youth something to look forward to, and make sure we all stayed connected. So, we asked our staff to come up with as many out-of-the-box ideas as they could think of. The result has been truly impressive,” said Marineke Vandervort, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Dieguito.

Instructors at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito Youth Arts Academy (YAA) are meeting with their students regularly, only now they meet in virtual rooms. 175 of the students at YAA are signing on to Zoom to join their bandmates and instructors for virtual lessons. Program Manager Amanda Buzzell noted that one challenge with conducting music lessons online is that a time lag occurs with technology, and this interferes with synchronization. The solution: “silent jams,” where one member plays their musical part for the group and classmates play along on mute.

A Boys & Girls Club member with her drawing.

An interesting development to come out of the virtual music lessons is that students have begun to self-correct more readily.

“In an in-person lesson, it is very easy for a teacher to use their own eyes, voice, instrument, and/or hands to point out a mistake on the music page. But that isn’t always possible in virtual lessons. It is up to the students to listen to themselves playing, listen to their instructors, and really focus on the music to catch and correct their own mistakes. This is a musical skill that usually takes years of practice to perfect,” said Buzzell.

Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s Rancho San Dieguito (RSD) swim team and Bulldogs basketball teams have been staying active with virtual workouts, drills, and seminars. The nationally-ranked RSD swim team runs a rigorous practice schedule during the year, and the coaches are taking advantage of the newly available time to teach their swimmers about sports psychology.

Free virtual tutoring is now being offered to afterschool program members. Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito has a “no child turned away” policy, and the organization supports costs for many in the community to attend its afterschool programs. During the school year, members receive in-person homework assistance from staff, which is not possible at this time. Free virtual tutoring is a way of maintaining academic support for members who may need it. The afterschool program is also holding virtual activities and check-ins with members.


Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito plans to reopen its facilities as soon as possible, in compliance with the advice and guidelines of local and state health authorities. Virtual programming isn’t going anywhere though. Some of the services that have kept everyone so well-connected will be kept on as a complement to more traditional afterschool programming. This will leave open the opportunity for new creative possibilities in the future.

“We look forward to physically reopening when it is safe and we are advised to do so. We anticipate that the bonds between our staff and youth will be stronger than ever”, said Vandervort.

For more information, visit or call (858) 755-9371. --News release