By Jon Dinan
CALLICOON The Delaware Youth Center began it’s 2012 Summer Youth Program Monday July 2 with some added PEP.
The sports portion of the program, which has always been implemented to some degree, has expanded this year thanks to the Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant the Youth Center received from the Sullivan West School District.
“Sports now run throughout the day,” Youth Center Board Member and Sports Program Supervisor Christina Mace noted. “We are getting a lot more kids, and older kids to participate thanks to the grant.”
The aid from Sullivan West through the PEP Grant has allowed the hiring of six additional staff members to supervise more activities at more times.
The Summer Program is not to be confused with a traditional drop-off camp. Parents are asked to accompany children 12 and under to allow for adequate supervision for the hundred plus youngsters who have signed up. The program generally receives around eighty kids on an average day, and roughly half are active in sports.
“It sets us apart from other camps because we have people of all ages,” said Program Director, Ginny Boyle said. “ It’s a nice thing because it’s intergenerational. Both parents and kids are sharing enjoyment.
“It’s not a luxury everyone has, but it allows kids to really learn and experience all we have to teach and offer because they are not just off to the side by themselves.”
For parents who simply can’t be with their children for some or all of the program’s duration, the Youth Center staff is active in connecting them with teenagers and other parents that are able to assist.
Sports activities are typically divided into groups based on age: up to second grade, third grade to sixth grade, and seventh grade and up is usually the separation unless there aren’t enough participants. In that case, activiies and games are modified appropriately.
“We try to mix it up, and do things that are fun for all ages,” said senior coach Pat Finn.
“For instance, yesterday we brought the kids out of the heat and played a variety of childhood games inside the gym like Red light, green light. The environment isn’t very competitive we’re more about getting the kids exercise and teaching them about team work and sportsmanship.”
Many of the young children opt to go swimming when their day of sports is complete. The Youth Center Pool is open everyday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursday’s which have been dubbed “family nights.” the pool stays open until 8 p.m. The pool has also recently set aside an hour for adult swim between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
“We teach sports because it keeps children active and shows them how to interact for life,” Mace explained.
The sports educators are backed by volunteers as well like Sullivan West High School Track Coach, Ron Bauer who comes in on Fridays to teach track and field.
Representatives from the National Parks Service also donate their time, informing adolescents about their surrounding environment, and various outdoor activities.
“For the future we will continue to raise money and expand the program in ways that benefit children, “ mace said. “We try to find out what people liked about their experiences here in order to plan for the folowing year.”
The Summer Program runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. until August 10. (six weeks). For more information explore the Delaware Youth Center online at delawareyouthcenter.org or call 887-5155.