Annual Club Carnival Makes Philanthropy Fun For Kids of All Ages



A decidedly unscientific poll conducted by The Chautauquan Daily at Boys’ and Girls’ Club last Wednesday uncovered something remarkable.

Club Carnival was more fun than playing Pokémon Go.

“My brother’s favorite event was the face paint and mine would be the dodgeball, where you throw at the targets,” said 9-year-old Ian Tobin.

Tobin and his twin brother Aidan also confirmed that attending Club Carnival was more enjoyable than playing the augmented reality monster-catching game, which has taken the nation by storm.

At the annual fundraiser for the Chautauqua Foundation, members of Club from all age groups were responsible for coming up with an idea for a booth and running it during the carnival.

“It might be counselor dodgeball, a bake sale or the kid car wash,” said Club program director Jennifer Flanagan. “They know it’s all going to a good cause so they bring their pocketful of quarters. We usually raise a couple thousand dollars.”

Tickets cost 25 cents and each booth charged only a few tickets to play.

The carnival stretched from the beach volleyball courts next to Seaver Gym all the way to the Beeson Youth Center. Despite overcast skies, hundreds of Clubbers and their families took part in the festivities.

Long lines stretched behind Group 5 Boys “Whack-A-Staff,” in which contestants threw dodgeballs at counselors lined up against the gym. The Group 2 Girls “Cake Walk” booth offered a free cupcake to the winning contestant in a spin-off version of musical chairs.

Counselor Mackenzie Carter helped run the “Cake Walk” booth and refused to give in to Clubbers who tried to simply purchase the cupcakes outright. She said the booth had been a Club Carnival fixture for a few years.

“We decided on it last week. [Group] 2 Girls have done it in the past,” Carter said. “It’s a fun one to do with little kids.”

Dash Bauer, a member of Group 2 Boys, tried his hand at a ring toss booth, which he said was his favorite one at the carnival.

The carnival is unique in that students of Children’s School take part in the festivities and mingle with the older Clubbers. There were also plenty of family members on hand to support their children and help raise money for the Chautauqua Foundation.

Flanagan said her favorite carnival booth was “Kid Car Wash,” a huge slip-and-slide run by the Club water staff.

“That’s so novel and on a hot day like today, it’s very popular,” Flanagan said. “The water staff soaks them up and pulls them through on an inner tube. We told them they didn’t have to take a bath last night.”

Carter said she thinks the carnival helps kids realize the possibilities of what they can do each day during the summer.

“It shows them that there are things to do outside, [instead] of staring at a phone screen,” she said.

Austin Siegel

The author Austin Siegel

Austin Siegel is the recreation and youth reporter for The Chautauquan Daily. He is a journalism major at Northwestern University and a third-generation Chautauquan. Follow him on Twitter @AustinSiegel23.