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Rec departments recover now that summer has arrived

Belmont Parks and Recreation has a new t-shirt logo after two years displaying the design of our talented Summer Camp Counselor Jayce Kruger (right), shown wearing his design. Romeo Suarez, while attending the camp last year, wanted to add his talents to the camp T-shirt. He is shown wearing his design, which gets compliments everywhere the summer camp travels. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
August 05, 2009
LAKES REGION — Rain might have put a damper on local recreation department activities earlier this summer, but as we head into August, it looks like the season won't be a total washout.

Several local recreation department directors are reporting that their summer programs got off to a slow start but are now in full swing, with camps and lessons nearly full or at capacity.

Herb Greene, Parks and Rec director in Gilford, said the first couple of sessions of swimming lessons and golf lessons were not well attended because of the constant rain.

"A lot of our first sessions, the numbers seemed kind of low," Greene said. "It's been a slow start, but numbers are up now."

He said that participation in swimming and golf, as well as tennis lessons, basketball camp and soccer camp, has been either level with or up slightly from participation levels from last year.

Likewise, Moultonboro Parks and Recreation Director Donna Kuethe said the numbers aren't any lower than last year for the department's three camps, Happy Campers, wRECking Crew, and the Teen Adventure program. Plus, she said, some of Moultonboro's biggest summer activities, such as Old Home Day, had substantial turnouts.

"Our numbers overall are the same as last year," she said.

However, Kuethe said the weather played a big role in the success of department programs at the beginning of the summer, particularly for summer camp, because they don't have an indoor area to relocate to in case of rain.

"It forced a lot of cancellations," Kuethe said of the day camp activities.

She added that they tried to keep cancellations to a minimum by not canceling when it rained lightly or intermittently.

"We held it a lot of days when other years (we might not have)," she said.

She said they also had trouble squeezing in tennis lessons, and beach use was significantly hampered by the wet weather.

"Weather is always a factor," agreed Belmont Parks and Rec Director Janet Breton. "We've rearranged our weeks a number of times searching for the best day of the week to travel to our outside amusement venues."

Giving an example, Breton said they headed to a water park one day and the weather never cleared as predicted.

"We did a quick change to the See Museum in Manchester for part of the day," she said. "Then we took the campers to see 'Ice Age 3.'"

Breton said they also usually take campers to the Leslie Roberts Town Beach twice a week and had to reschedule and cancel those outings several times.

Despite the weather, though, Breton said the department takes 50 children each week for camp and has kept that number most of the weeks.

"New this year we started a part-time program that is quite labor intensive with scheduling but certainly a benefit for the parents and guardians who only need two to four days per week of camp," Breton said.

Along with the excessive rain, another issue on most people's minds this summer has been the economy, but whether more people stayed close to home to partake in local recreation is hard to say based on mostly average participation levels.

"The economy's a flip of the coin as far as (local) recreation," Greene said.

Greene said most of the fees are set by the organizations that run the camps. In house, he said, they try to keep the fees low enough that they just break even.

Over in Moultonboro, Kuethe said she did notice a couple signs of the weak economy.

"I had a tremendous amount of applications for jobs this year," Kuethe said.

She said that in past years it has been hard to find enough employees, especially waterfront staff.

She also noted that there's been a slight increase in the number of scholarships utilized this summer.

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