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VACA PENA BRANCH OF THE BOYS & GIRLS CLUB HOSTS OPEN HOUSE

As music blared in the background Wednesday, kids feasted on hot dogs, had their faces painted and played a variety of games while also learning more about the offerings of the Vaca Pena Middle School branch of the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club.
It’s National Boys & Girls Club Week and in Vacaville, the Vaca Pena team kicked off local festivities.
Clustered around Portable 42, kids climbed trees, played ladder ball, bounced basketballs against nearly every surface and chased each other. Essentially, they had fun, which is a huge component of daily programs, staff said.
Climbing off one of the plank-and-rope creations he had made that morning for the afternoon’s Plank Walk game, Site Supervisor Travis Hitt said he was happy with the day’s large turnout and with the program, in general.
“The idea was showcasing our club’s … programs,” he explained, saying the games were about healthy lifestyles and the face painting was part of the club’s fine arts activities.
Lots of teen volunteers from the club’s Trower Center lent a hand, as did students from both Will C. Wood and Vacaville high schools and a host of community members.
The branch serves an average of 25 children a day, with a capacity for five more. Aside from exercise, there’s a strong focus on academics, Hitt said.
What makes this branch unique, he continued, is just the variety of personalities it embraces. For example, newcomers are asked an important question regarding “fruitonality” — as in, are you a banana or a lemon?
“It doesn’t mean anything,” he said, though “only a few of us are bananas. Everyone else is a lemon.”
Again, it’s all about fun, he said, and when something is fun, the programming is fun.
“The personalities are amazing,” he said. “It’s a very unique club. Everyone’s so different and everyone’s welcome.”
More activities continue this week, with an open house at Trower Center, 100 Holly Lane, from 4 to 6 p.m. today. There will be a carnival and refreshments.
From 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, the fun will conclude with an open house at the Acacia Center, 461 Acacia St. Expect games, raffle prizes, tacos and more. Torch Club president Dyana Silva will deliver her speech about the importance of having a club in her neighborhood.
Saturday, the club hosts a Hollywood Bowl-a-Thon, from 12 to 2:30 p.m. at Stars Recreation Center. Teams of bowlers representing various organizations and businesses bowl to raise money and compete for trophies and cups. There’s still lanes available for additional teams.
By Kimberly K. Fu, kfu@thereporter.com, @ReporterKimFu on Twitter