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By the book

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Local teens start club based on popular fictional series

HARTINGTON — A group of teens is learning about entrepreneurship, one babysitting job at a time.

Meet Hartington’s very own Baby-sitters Club: President Vayda Lippert; Vice-president, Katelyn Uldrich; Secretary, Allison Huesers; Treasurer Kloe Fischer; and Alternate Officers, Ella Eickhoff and Hadley Grutsch.

The girls based their club, or business, off of the Ann M. Martin classic book series of the same name popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s, which was recently adapted to a TV series on Netflix. In the fictional series, the Baby-sitter’s Club is born after Kristy Thomas’ mother has to make multiple phone calls to find an available sitter for Kristy’s younger brother. Kristy decides to start the club which meets at a specific time each week so parents would be able to reach multiple sitters at one time and with one phone number.

Locally, Lippert decided to start the business as part of a High Ability Learners’ business unit at Hartington-Newcastle Public School this spring. Teacher Amber Davies led the students on a simple entrepreneurship development of an invention or service.

Initially, dog walking was on the radar but then Lippert settled on babysitting.

Just like the fictional club, the local group meets regularly at Lippert’s home and parents have access to responsible, experienced babysitters with just one phone call.

When a job comes in, the pertinent information about the date, times, address, number and ages of children are recorded. Then, they match schedules to see who’s available.

“We try to make it as fair as possible. If three people are open that day, we’ll go off of who has had the least amount of jobs,” Lippert said.

Oftentimes, two club members head out for a baby-sitting job and then split the money earned.

“The first time I went, I went with someone because it was my first time but now I feel like I’m good,” Eickhoff said.

Baby-sitter Club fliers can be seen all over town - at gas stations, the post office and grocery store - and business has started to pick up some with one repeat customer and others who have inquired about their services.

All of the club members completed the 4-H Babysitting Clinic, where they learned how to change diapers and how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, among other things.

They each made a Play Pack that they bring on babysitting jobs, which includes fun items for children such as play dough, pop-its, coloring books and stickers. They also come armed with a first-aid kit and a binder with safety information including poison control numbers.

Uldrich and others in the club read all the “Baby-sitter’s Club” books and each of the girls can see characteristics of the fictional Baby-sitter’s Club in themselves or others in the group.

In the fictional series, Kristy is the leader and president of the group and other members are Claudia, Stacy and Mary Anne. Dawn is introduced later in the series and becomes the club’s fifth core member in the book.

“Vayda is definitely just like Kristy because she’s kind of bossy,” Grutsch said with a smile. Huesers is more like the artsy Clau

Huesers is more like the artsy Claudia in the book series and Grutsch like the character Dawn because she’s “so chill.” Fischer has more of Mary Ann’s serious characteristics, group members said.

They’ve all had their share of adventures, from not knowing how to turn on the oven to dealing with pets while on babysitting jobs.

Lippert and Fischer were babysitting together and had adventures in pulling a child in a trailer.

“She was pulling a little kid in a trailer and she couldn’t get up the hill and so she started going back down,” Lippert said.

After the child was out of the trailer, Fischer ran over the curb, she said with a giggle.

Many of them also recall playing remote-controlled cars, painting and acting out the child’s favorite video game in real life.

They like to plan activities from art to imaginative play, to taking kids to the pool or park - with parent permission, of course. They’re even mindful of keeping toys and activities picked up so parents don’t come home to a mess.

“If it’s toys, I’ll make it into a game, like they have a certain amount of time to clean it up,” Lippert said and then kids are rewarded based on how many minutes it takes.

For Hartington’s Babysitter Club, it’s about more than the jobs or even the business - it all comes down to the kids.

Many of them have visions of themselves working with children as a career: Uldrich as a teacher; the others think maybe a pediatrician or pediatric nurse.

“I’m always ready for the next job. I don’t care about the money, I just want to meet the kids,” Fischer said.