From the World of Parks and Recreation
By Doug Comer

Area children and Parks and Rec staff enjoying a day of fun and learning last summer; this year’s program begins on June 19th at nine locations around the county.

Harrison County Parks and Recreation is weeks away from the start of its Summer Parks Program. With a June 19th kick-off, the program has enabled families a safe environment for children throughout Harrison County to go to during the summer months. And while Parks and Recreation is primarily known for recreation, people who have been a part of the program know it goes beyond the fields and playgrounds.

“We try to do so much in such a short span in order to make the program a success and I feel that we have done that with what we offer,” said Director Mike Book. “While recreation is a primary component to our offerings, we do have enrichments, education and other activities that can be done as well.”

From friendship bracelets to games of Uno, kids have opportunities to seek out other things to do besides a game of kick-ball. While we do have organized activities during the day, we do offer other things for kids that are looking for something else to do while spending their time at one of our nine sites offered.

“Our staffing allows us the chance to give kids other options while on property. We have artists, athletes and plenty of kids wanting to educate as well. During our interview process, we ask about their hobbies and knowing that answer definitely helps with the placements of staff throughout the county. Kids will do arts and crafts, have team-building challenges and, of course, still get to play the recreational activities we have slated,” said Book.

Last year, only seven sites were offered. But, we the additions of Lumberport and Lost Creek in both parks as well as Energy Express sites, we have expanded to nine total. Others include, Summit Park, North View Park, Wilsonburg Elementary, Shinnston City Park, West Milford Community Center, Nutter Fort Elementary (behind the school) and finally Salem City Park.

Salem University, which has been the home for the program for a number of years as well as an Energy Express site, has been a wonderful place for the kids to go. But, we approached City Manager Ron Davis and asked about the park in Salem and he was gracious to offer a new home to the program as Book explains.

“We have received feedback from families in the area and the overall suggestion was having the program at a park where they have slides, monkey bars and other things to do. And working along with the City of Salem in getting the park ready as far as safety is concerned will be a process, but all things are looking toward the positive.”

All kids have used our program as a means to have some fun between school years. And while the program is open to all children between the ages of six through 12 years of age, we do have volunteers at the middle school level that help our staff with the kids. And the volunteers actually are great sources when looking to hire once they reach the proper age.

The junior volunteers have no authority compared to regular staff; however, they act as a support system which helps immensely to the program’s success.

“Mostly, all junior staff are park kids that has gone through the program and passed the maximum age requirements,” said Book. “But, they still want to be a part of the program because they might have younger siblings or just want to come and give back for what they have received. And when we look to hire in the coming years, and if that staffer did a good job for us, we mostly likely hire them as regular staff once they reach that age.”

The program begins June 19th and the program is free of charge. Registration is the first week and it begins at 7:30 am and you are free to go to any of the sites mentioned above. The program will be closed on Tuesday, July 4th and later ends on the last week of the month, July 28th. For questions, please contact the HCPR.