The Summer Program offered by the Board of Education over the past two summers allows kids the chance to work on some school activities during the next four weeks all while maintaining those school-year friendships that may slip once the summer begins. To provide recreation, which is a requirement of the federal grant, Harrison County Parks and Recreation stepped up to give the kids some outdoor recreational actions to make sure that all four corners are covered.
Director Mike Book and staff provide support for the program on a four-day work week beginning at 11:30 am at sites located throughout the county. While two sites are on school grounds, one has bus transportation to the location. Of the three sites, a significant number do take part in the program. With days of service beginning on Mondays and finishing on Thursday, Book has been a strong supporter of the program and if it involves kids, he wants to find a way to contribute.
“We already work with the Board of Education on numerous projects including the food program as well as rentals for many of our recreational programs including youth basketball and other special projects,” said Book. “We have been working with them for many years and when this opportunity presented itself, we felt that we could contribute with our staff in the afternoon providing recreation for them. While we would like to see some bigger numbers, the overall has been a success.”
With sites located at Big Elm, Nutter Fort and Johnson elementary schools, two of the sites have kids stay on property while one will transport kids to a neighboring park within a mile from the school. Big Elm has a wonderful playground in the front of their school and has plenty of playground pieces to keep kids occupied while playing. For Johnson, kids will be sent to Compton Park where the park there provides for all forms of recreation including basketball, ga-ga ball, swings and plenty of space for organized activities like kick-ball and other activities. These sites will have breakfast and lunch before being released to the playground areas where parks and recreation supervises.
While kids are not mandatorily required to stay for the afternoon, most in fact do stay and enjoy their friends while playing organized games or just hanging out. And others even travel to some of the other sites located in the county to play in the afternoon. With most of the summer parks program kids attending the Recreation Complex, those who attend the BOE program will leave sites like Nutter Fort and come out to the main office. There is nothing wrong with any of the sites except that maybe the four-day work week may put a strain on what to do on Friday, but we encourage the kids to come and take advantage of the program no matter what site they go to during the morning.
“It is our encouragement to make things easily accessible for the kids to get a place to be a kid during the summer,” said Book. “A tremendous program with longevity like our program is a great benefit to the people who utilize it. The program is free of charge and families should take advantage of this simply because it is a fun and safe place for kids to spend their summers. Parents can feel at ease knowing that their children are being supervised and the hours fit perfectly for those whether you are a two-income family or a single parent.”