From the World of Parks and Rec
By Doug Comer

As we inch closer to the summer, staff at Harrison County Parks and Recreation is planning and coordinating this year’s Summer Parks Program, a 6-week session for kids to enjoy the summer, while doing activities under the supervision of young adults at various sites throughout Harrison County.

To get the program off the ground, we have a checklist that is a mile long. It all starts with the selection of the dates and then the snowball begins to grow. Director Mike Book, who has worked for Parks and Recreation since he was a student in college, knows the program like the back of his hand.  However, it evolves every year as he explains.

“The regulations and safety concerns have been the biggest challenges that we face with the program. It is ever changing each year and to keep up with it means we have to do plenty of research. From my early days, we played all the games like dodgeball and tackle football. But, in today’s world and the concussion issues, we cannot play games like that anymore. We keep it safe and fun and the parents can be assured that the kids will have a fun, yet safe time while under our watch.”

Staffing the parks has never been a problem, as our retention rate with previous staff is pretty strong. There are some obstacles involving today’s work staff that can cause some issues. But, Book has a plan in order to make sure that the first priority is the kids.

“Modern technology has been such an eye sore for us and it is one of the first things addressed during our training sessions in June. Texting and social media sometimes distract staff at times. However, we are implementing a program where our tolerance level is not very high. If you are caught, you will not work! I know that there are emergencies and family situations, but the kids are the highest priority and our staff needs to stay focused,” said Book.

Our staff ranges from high school kids to college students and many have started out as “park’s kids” who later became staff employees. Those kids have the best understanding of what the program is all about. Simply because, when they were younger they looked up to staff that helped them do something like throw a football or teach them a game. Book boasts about how people approach him today and comment about their summers as a kid at the park.

“I have had people approach me and they look like in their 30s and tell me about how much fun they had during the summers because of our park’s program. And now, we have their kids going through the program today. A great part about my tenure in Parks and Recreation is how I see the kids grow and learn about their successes in life when they begin adulthood.”

Parks and Recreation is a great resume builder for that student that wants to stand out from the rest of the students in their class. To show that you have the supervisor responsibilities at such a young age can help springboard you up the ladder. If you know someone that would be interested in our program, please contact the Park’s office for more information.

The program dates are June 19th through July 28th and it is a free program for kids between the ages of 6-12. They are provided a lunch and a snack and the program gives the kids opportunities for organized activities, recreation, enrichments and many memories. Flyers will be sent to the schools in the closing weeks of the school calendar year.