From The World Of Parks & Recreation
By Doug Comer

It’s finally here! The summer parks program, known as “It Starts in the Parks” kicked off this week with strong numbers at our seven sites located throughout Harrison County. The 6-week program provides children between the ages of 6 through 12 an opportunity to spend time with their friends and make the most of the summer break between school sessions.
“We have had big numbers again this year as expected,” related Mike Book, Director of the HCPR. “The kids will not only have a place to play and socialize with their friends, but they will be taught many things through our enrichment teams. We have organized recreation, arts and crafts as well as music, and we hope this may sway them into participating in these extracurricular activities during the school year.”
While the kids will have a lot of free time to do various things like play cards, draw or communicating with others, there is a set schedule of activities for the kids to participate. The program has always been constructed for recreation but Book has seen a changing of the tides, as education is a big part of our program.
“Sure, we have games like kick-ball, whiffle ball and basketball. But, we have a lot of kids that like to do other things and we try to provide the resources for them. Many kids like to draw or paint and we have those items readily available for them. And, of course, we encourage the kids to be creative and use their imagination. Some of the work they do is very impressive.”
North View, a city-owned park in the western part of Clarksburg, recorded the biggest numbers of all the sites. With an Energy Express site that collaborates with North View, the program historically has had strong numbers. But, the turnout this year shows a 20% increase from last.
“Energy Express has been a resource for us to recruit for our summer school program. With sites in North View, as well as Salem University and Wilsonburg Elementary, almost all the kids who participate in the 4-hour morning program, carry over into the parks program in the afternoon. Being the county’s representative for the Energy Express program, we have had no issues in pooling the two programs together,” said Book.
While the program is designed for kids to enjoy their summer break, Harrison County looks at the program as a means to provide the children with a safe and supervised area and provide the kids with a meal during the day. With the help of the Board of Education in Harrison County, food is prepared and delivered to all the sites. And the meals are consistent with what is served during the school year as Book explains.
“The food program is to provide kids with a meal during the day and our relationship with the Board of Education has been wonderful. The food is consistent with the meals during the school year and almost all the meals are hot food. Hamburgers, hot dogs and pork sandwiches are some of the meals that they receive as well as various sides that include a fruit or a vegetable. All in all, it has been great and the staff has done a wonderful job of preparing the meals.”
It’s not too late to sign your child up for the free program as we have seven sites throughout the County for your child to attend. Feel free to contact the HCPR for more information of our program.