Parks and Rec. staff began planning in January for programming opportunities this summer. Its activity guide was mailed to homes in March and is available on-line.
With the local economy still in a transition period, and the shorter summer break for schools, City of Sparks Recreation Specialist Cindy Brantner admitted Parks and Rec. staff wasn't sure if programming numbers would plateau or even fall.
Two weeks into June, she likes what she is seeing from a registration standpoint.
"Our numbers are actually starting to increase," Brantner said. "We believed there was a possibility they might go down, but sign-up numbers are up. We thought the shorter summer might have more scheduling in vacations in a shorter time period, which would've dropped our participation numbers. It's actually been the opposite. It's like parents want to get their kids involved in anything they can before they have to go back to school. The weather has also been nice so that always helps."
The department's most popular youth summer programming seems to be swim lessons. Brantner said that's no surprise.
"We've even added some evening outdoor classes at Deer Pool because our demand here at Alf Sorensen has been so overwhelming," she said. "We had 40 on a waiting list at one point. It was insane, so we did add more. The more kids we get through a swim session, the better. Swim lessons are always good for safety reasons."
Sparks Parks and Rec. began offering a program titled 'Kids Empowering Kids" during the school year. It will offer it again this fall. The program instructor is Meg Bertolino, a counselor at Sparks' Sepulveda Elementary School."
"It's a great program," Brantner said. "It teaches kids how to build confidence and self esteem. It teaches kids how to express their feelings, teach empathy and be happy. It teaches them skills to to help deal with difficult friends."
Of the course Park and Rec. is offering many of the old standbys for local youths this summer. There are tennis lessons, golf lessons, a sports camp, mini soccer clinic as well as volleyball and softball clinics as well.
"We try to offer as much as we can to get the kids outside and away from sitting at home, playing video games. We we don't want something to last the entire summer. We want a week-long camp or something that's a couple days a week maybe for two or three weeks."
Brantner added Parks and Rec. staff is always searching for new programming ideas, but that it also has a lot of successful programs on the books already.
"Anything that's done well in the past, we'll continue to offer," she said. "We have a lot of the same kids participate in the same things every summer. If something is not working, we try to do something totally different. At the end of every program session, we hand out evaluation forms try. We try to take that in that information and learn from it. We want to keep people participating."
For more information on Sparks Parks and Rec. summer youth programming, check out the department's website at: cityofsparks.us/residents/recreation