Friday, August 10, 2007
Carlisle's Summer Recreation makes a splash
Carlisle's Summer Fun recreation program is in full swing, with one week remaining in the last of three two-week sessions. Children have lots of activities to choose from to make their day enjoyable. Co-director Cindy Nock says, "We try to have options that kids like." Lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, arts and crafts, canoeing and kayaking, tennis, theater, karate and cooking are just some of the activities kids can participate in, with cooking, canoeing and tennis being especially popular this year.
Jobs for teens
The summer program is not just for the young children, preschool through grade 8, who enroll as campers. Older children can graduate from camper to counselor-in-training (CIT) or water safety aide (WSA), and then progress to counselor or water safety instructor (WSI).
Nock says one of the strongest parts of the program is the counselors. "They are good role models," she said, adding, "This is a great program to have in the community."
CITs continue to pay tuition as they receive job training. This year there are nine CITs helping during one or more of the three sessions.
The minimum age requirements vary for the different jobs. CITs and water safety aides must be at least 13 years old, whereas counselors need to be at least 15-1/2 years old. Water safety instructors teach the swimming lessons and must be at least 17 years old and Red Cross certified. In all, the summer recreation program employs 30 paid staff as counselors and water safety instructors, almost all from Carlisle. Of these, four are adults, 17 are college students, and nine are high school students. Nock said that some of the students donate hours as community service, and their salaries can be used to help provide scholarship aid.
Red Cross swim lessons have long been the backbone of the program. Decades ago, children from Carlisle were bused to Walden Pond for swim lessons. As an alternative, Mary Diment helped organize swim lessons in local pools. She served on the Recreation Commission from 1969 to 1989, and during those years saw summer recreation offerings expand to include arts and crafts, tennis and soccer.
The Carlisle swim program proved very successful, and over the years, Nock thinks some 30 pools have been used in town. Typically three or four pools would be used, but in recent years the number of people willing to volunteer their pools has dropped, and lessons are being scheduled at just two pools this summer. No one was denied lessons because of the pool shortage, but larger class sizes were needed to accommodate all the children. More instructors were assigned to each class to accommodate the larger groups.
Nock worries that the lack of pools may harm the program. She is not sure why people are less inclined to volunteer their pools, but wonders if they are afraid of being sued. "The town gets an insurance rider on each pool we use and we have never had a problem or incident in the 40 years that the town has been using private pools for swim lessons." Nock hopes more people will consider letting the town use their pools in the future.
The number of children in the K-3 section of the program is about equal to the number of children in the 4-8 section this year. Enrollment in all the summer programs has fluctuated over the years, declining from peak levels in the 1990s, roughly following the demographics of the town. Other factors may also be involved, such as expanded summer programs in nearby towns. As the town's population ages, there are fewer children in the age group for summer camp. In the 1990s, roughly 400 were enrolled in the summer program. In 2000, there were 366 participating, and this number dropped to 310 in 2001, and then to 290 in 2002. Between 2003 and 2006, the number was closer to 200 participants. Presently, 235 children are registered. When enrollments were higher the summer program also offered more employment opportunities. According to the town's Annual Report, there were 40 hired during the summer of 2000 and 50 employed in 2001.
Directors and volunteers
Nock has been involved for 18 years, both as a volunteer and a town employee. She continues to run the summer programs, and in 2000 began helping out in the Recreation office year-round with the registrations and finances. Hired in 1999, Jan Deyoe is the town's first year-round Recreation Director. In 2002, Deyoe and Nock became co-directors. The program is self-supporting except for one of the directors' salaries.
Town Meeting approved funding for a full-time Director for FY08. The current configuration of two co-directors is scheduled to be discontinued, and a full-time Director with supporting part-time staff will begin sometime this fall or winter.
Besides Diment, Nock and Deyoe, there have been several others who have been involved with the summer recreation program over the years, including Phyllis Hughes, Karen Lemmerman, Barbara Moschini, Alison Saylor, and the Forsberg family, who have donated the use of their pool for over 20 years.
Additional field trips may be possible soon. Nock noted, "The Recreation Department is purchasing a new 12-passenger van this summer and we hope to put it to good use during the year with somewhat spontaneous trips for small groups (adults, children, families) in the community to venues like museums, music events, sporting events, etc. We are open to ideas from the community."
Summer Rec Carlisle School Enrollments
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