The idea of a field day for those playing the back-9 in life consisted of competitions between classmates, other grades and even at the county level. From relay races to tug-o-wars, there were plenty of events where the kids competed for ribbons and pride. Today, the competition is there to an extent, but they include more friendly competition as we will discuss in today’ article.
With field days running all the way through to summer break, some competition is there but unlike the Olympic style of activities one would see on ABCs Battle of the Network Stars these competitive events include Jump the River, Kickball and even Octopus Tag. Gabe Kaplan, who was a legend at the competition back in the 1980s, probably would struggle in today’s events.
“We definitely had a lot of events that entailed running, throwing, kicking and other various skills of speed and strength,” said Director Mike Book. “And while those games are still played today, the majority involves activities where the kids at any level can still have winners, but everyone has a chance no matter what is their skill level.”
With upwards of 24 field days since the middle of May, all classes registered has their own style of field day. For some, we are there as a support team for the PTO or teachers who want the kids to have some organized games, free play and other forms of non-competitive activities.
Book, who moonlights as the County Director for the Energy Express Program, has brought many games from EE to the parks and most actually involves games with recycled products. One would be surprised what a couple metal coat hangers, some pantyhose and some bunched up plastic bags could create. Book boasts about how some of these games are the biggest hit from field days to summer parks programs.
“Through the years at both the Energy Express and the Summer Parks Programs, we have come across a few ways where kids can have fun and at the same time help the environment,” said Book. “We receive plenty of items throughout the year that get converted into some form of game or activity. We have used office water cooler containers as bats for baseball as well as metal hangers and hosiery for tennis rackets. Field days has definitely evolved through the years.”
Many of the younger school grades take advantage of the field days for the kids simply because we see them throughout the year during the enrichment programs and the kids are already familiar with our staff. Normally, we come to them for support at their school or we actually run the field days for the teachers. No matter the case, there is a game plan set for the staff and the kids. Recreation Director Jack Cann, who orchestrates the events, commends the organization of the days and how structured things are when staff is there.
“The way we handle field days is like a well-oiled machine,” says Cann. “Planning and organizing is based on the age of the kids and the interests of the teachers. Whether it is more arts and crafts as compared to sports, we mold our activities around what they would like to see. Staffing and making sure we have the equipment ready for that particular age group is a must or the day could be a bust. So far, things have been great.”
For those my age or close to it, field days are a little different than what you may remember them. The competition is not quite what they are today, but the results are the same. It is a day to close out the year spending time with your friends before the school year is over and summer begins. Parks and Recreation has been a part of this and has rolled with the changes throughout the decades.