Over 160 children signed up for 2016 –
Staff Report –
June 14 marked the first day of the 2016 Adams County Summer R.E.C. program. Over 160 children, ranging from 8 to 14 years old from all over the county signed up for the program, and three days a week for six weeks they converge on Manchester for a day of fun, education, and interaction with other young people. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings these children get on buses at West Union, Peebles, Seaman, and Manchester and are brought to the Manchester Educational and Activity Center to begin their day.
The Adams County Summer Recreation program has been around for over 43 years, and as since the beginning, there is no charge for any child who wants to be in the program. Numerous organizations and individuals have worked to secure grant monies and donations that fund the program in its entirety. Summer R.E.C. has transformed from where kids used to stay in their own towns for these activities, to now, where they get to interact with children from all over Adams County in one central location.
Director of the Summer R.E.C. program for the last two years, Brian Seaman, is very pleased with what the program has become. “When I was growing up in Peebles, many of my friends and I were part of this summer program,” said Seaman. “There would be one or two counselors and 30+ kids every day at the Peebles ballfields. We would play kickball, dodgeball, or whatever we could think of. Then we’d go home for lunch, and come back for more. But, when it rained, we just had to stay home. Now, because the program is centered on the grounds of the Manchester Educational and Activity Center (MEAC), we have no rainouts and every child is provided a breakfast, lunch, and snack each day.”
Two years ago, Summer Recreation became Summer R.E.C. The R.E.C. standing for Respect, Education, and Character, all of which organizers felt needed to be enhanced in our children’s lives.
“The kids still enjoy all the games we played when I was 14, but now we have experts from such places as Adams Brown Community Action Program, Valley View Dental, OSU Extension-Adams County, the Adams County Library, the Counseling Center and numerous other guest speakers come in and provide programming to the children,” added Seaman. “Judge Brett Spencer is a huge proponent of the program and willingly gives his time to come and interact with the kids and supports the program.”
Other organizations and speakers who have provided education or art instruction include the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Commissioner Paul Worley, the United States Coast Guard, Sheriff Kimmy Rogers and his Deputy Boot Camp, Candee Basford, Adams County Health Department, the Red Cross, Girl Scouts, engineers from General Electric-Peebles, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and many others.
“We maintain a good balance of physical activity, arts and crafts, and classroom type sessions where the children learn about proper manners, nutrition, etiquette, anti-bullying, proper hygiene, drug abuse, and numerous other subjects,” says Seaman. “We do our best to instill in the kids that they all have the potential to do anything they want with their lives and that building good character is essential.”
Director Seaman, along with a staff of three supervisors and 20 counselors, lead the program this year. “The counselors are what make this program successful. The children feed off of their enthusiasm. All of them participate with the kids in whatever they are doing, and some of these kids have an extraordinary amount of energy. I tell the counselors, ‘If you go home exhausted, you have done your job well’ ”! The supervisors take care of all scheduling, the immediate issues that pop up, and handling the day to day part of the program.
A typical day at Summer R.E.C. includes a healthy breakfast as the kids begin arriving by 9 a.m. After breakfast, they separate into their groups and go with their counselor to whatever “station” they are scheduled for, as there is a physical activity and an educational component each morning. The stations change every half hour and may include basketball, four-square, a fitness trail, a soccer obstacle course, or one of over a dozen different activities.
At 11:30 a.m., the children then have lunch prior to beginning their afternoon sessions of activities and education. Again, there is no cost for any meal. Grant monies were secured that are used to feed these children and the Manchester school cook staff gets everything prepared, which includes sack lunches to take on every field trip. Once lunch is completed, the children are transported to the ‘green space’ near the old Woolard School where they continue different games and activities. Typically, these activities would take place on the grounds of the MEAC, but due to an extensive outdoor renovation project on the grounds of Manchester Local School District, an offsite area for outdoor activities was secured, thanks in part to the Village of Manchester and the Manchester Fire Department.
The afternoon consists of a visit to the Manchester Library by some, while others play wiffle ball, frisbee golf, or jump rope. An educational component is offered in the afternoon, as well, and while at the green space, this session is offered in the Manchester United Methodist Church fellowship hall. At 2:30 p.m., the day is beginning to wind down and a healthy snack is offered to the children as they prepare to board the buses and head back to their respective towns.
This really is an amazing program because so much of the Adams County community is involved. As reported earlier, there is no cost to the children and their families for any component of Summer R.E.C. This is due to the support of many groups and organizations that ensure Summer R.E.C. is successful. Some of these include: Adams County Juvenile Court and Juvenile Court Judge; Manchester Local School District, Adams County Creating Healthy Communities Program; Manchester Educational and Activity Center; Adams County Job and Family Services; Adams County Health and Wellness Program; Adams County Medical Foundation; First State Bank; GE-Peebles Test Operation; DP&L; Walmart Community Fund; Adams Brown Diabetes Education Coalition, Manchester United Methodist Church; Adams County Regional Medical Center; and many others who have provided support in one form or another.
Because of this incredible support, the children of Adams County are able to come together, meet and play with kids from other towns, learn valuable life lessons, and go on field trips to places that they might otherwise never have the opportunity to go to. Many thanks go to the businesses and individuals in Adams County that have worked tirelessly to ensure that our children have this incredible opportunity.
“Summer R.E.C. is an opportunity of a lifetime for many of these children, structured to build character and provide life lessons that will positively influence their lives,” concluded Seaman.