A Time To Catch Our Breath

by Doug Comersports

As the beginning of the school year nears, the Summer Parks Program closed its doors to yet another successful year. Around 500 kids took part in the 6-week program designed for recreation as well as enrichments. For a Director nearing his 40th year with the Parks and Rec, it means that his year is “in the books.”
“While many calendar years begins in January and ends in December, the HCPR year goes from August through July,” related Mike Book. “We work so hard with our Enrichment Programs during the school year and then prepare for the Summer Parks Program that sometimes you forget to breathe. So, when August approaches, we get a small window to finally catch our breath and then we start the cycle all over again.”
Parks and Recreation does not necessarily mean throwing a ball onto a field and organizing a game, its way more than that as Book explains.
“While recreation is an important role in our program, we offer more to the community through enrichment programs like the Dinosaur Exhibit in the winter as well as our thumb print with Energy Express and RESA 7. We recognize people use our program as day care and we welcome that. The mission for the program is to provide the children with a program that makes the most of their summer months.”
With the help of the Harrison County Board of Education as well as the County Commission, the program has a meal plan that provides a lunch for the kids as well as a late snack. And the games, equipment and enrichments allows for organized sports or team building activities through arts and crafts.
“The relationship we have with the County Commissioners have been wonderful,” related Book. “They recognize that the future of Harrison County lies in the hands of our youth. And they understand that parks and recreation can provide them with all the necessary tools to prepare themselves for life.”
“Our food service relationship with the Board of Education has lifted our program to a higher level,” said Book. “The meals provided have eclipsed our expectations and for the kids to get meals equivalent to their school lunches is a big plus.”
The hub of the meal program is Nutter Fort Elementary School and the staffing provides meals for all seven sites, as well as a science camp the last week of the month. Staff calls in the amount of kids for the day and meals are prepped and ready to go out the door at 11:15 AM.
Recreation Coordinators and other staff employees take the meals to all the sites. And food is inspected and distributed by park leaders before returning back to the school with the empty cooler and warmer. The process takes roughly 1 and a half hours considering drive time for some sites.
While the program does come to a close, we are shifting gears and getting the enrichment program calendar ready for the 2015-16 school year – right after we catch our breath.