Griswold summer recreation program caps year with record enrollment

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Aug. 19, 2013
Mackenzie, 11, and Jordyn, 9, work together to design their own board game, whic
Mackenzie, 11, and Jordyn, 9, work together to design their own board game, which they called 'Fancy But Not Too.' Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

It’s not only rainy days that force kids indoors during the summer. This year’s heat waves meant that the Griswold Summer Recreation program spent a few sunny days indoors in the air-conditioned Griswold Middle School cafeteria, getting a respite from the oppressive humidity.

“It was very warm out, so they did transition in here,” said Summer Rec. staffer Stephanie Grillo. “We were doing 'Capture the Flag' this morning outside, and we’ll be doing water games later.”

Fellow staff member Elizabeth Bentley said she planned to work with the older children on their photography project. “I had them go look around at nature. Then they’ll bring their camera here and put their pictures up,” she said.

Elsewhere in the school cafeteria, youngsters were engaged in intense board game competitions. While chess and Monopoly were in evidence, Mackenzie and Jordyn were cutting and taping construction paper to devise their own board game, which they were calling Fancy But Not Too. It was a game about fashion, explained Jordyn. “You collect little pieces of clothing and whoever collects the most clothing first wins,” she said.

Meanwhile, down the hall in the gym, teen staff members led smaller children in active ball games.

With 170 children registered for the seven-week session, “it’s the highest enrollment we’ve had in the history of the program,” said Griswold Youth Recreation Director Ryan Aubin. That averaged out to 80 to 100 children per week, rather than the more typical 30 to 40 kids.  “I think it’s a function of [the fact that] it’s more affordable now. The most important part is that it’s actually a summer camp.” The program was run by 10 staff members, six interns, five staffers funded through EASTCONN regional educational service center, and seven guest instructors.

A wide variety of programming was offered throughout the day, from arts and crafts to active movement through yoga, Zumba or hula hoops. Kids were given three choices and could pick the activity they were most interested in, he said. “We’re trying to offer the best program for the funding for our residents,” he said.

The seven-week program for children aged 4 through 13 revolved around a theme: Community Week, for example, included a Wolverine Pride Day, when kids dressed in Griswold green, along with a field trip to Town Hall to meet with First Selectman Philip Anthony. Participants also enjoyed a visit from Mad Science and another from an A. A. Young Hose & Ladder fire truck and a state trooper’s cruiser. Weekly field trips took the youngsters to Mystic Aquarium, the Connecticut Science Center, a Connecticut Tigers baseball game, and Nomad's Adventure Quest in South Windsor.

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