Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let summer games begin at Atkinson Park!

35 years of outdoor fun

Summer means doing new things with your good friends. Express file photo

Kids have belonged at Ketchum's Atkinson Park during the summer for over two generations. And the summer of 2012 has another milestone.

The Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department that administers the granddaddy of all Wood River Valley summer youth recreation programs is celebrating its 35th anniversary on July 10. As director Jen Smith said, "We continue to change, grow and adjust as you, our customers, require."

The customers in question are all kids in the Wood River Valley as well as youth visitors to the community. Enrollment is open to youth going into the third grade and up.

Once you're spent a summer in the Atkinson Park Summer Youth Recreation program, you're officially a "Park Rat."

You'll make new friends and have fun just being outdoors and moving constantly. There's something going on all the time at the park.

The park is a safe haven where there's something for everyone.

Baseball, tennis, skateboarding, flag football, golf and swimming are just some of the activities. You can also start your day with yoga, and add to the mix things like volleyball, mountain biking, soccer, basketball, art and lawn games.

An exciting newer addition to the city's public park system is the Ketchum Bike Park across the street from the park. Created in partnership with the Blaine County School District, the bike park offers agility skill building in a safe environment. For something a little different, the family-friendly "Tennis 101" program for ages 4 to 90 provides the game's fundamentals at Atkinson Park (Wednesdays from 5:30-7 p.m. from July 11-Aug 1 and Aug. 8-29) and at Wood River High courts in Hailey (Saturdays from 9-10:30 a.m. starting July 14). Sign up for this offering at

On hand to guide the kids and run the programs are recreation supervisor John Kearney, youth recreation supervisor Bobby Noyes and Recreation Center supervisor Maggie Burbridge, plus a youth staff consisting of college and high school athletes, and past Park Rats summer alumni.

Open registration begins Friday, May 11, at 8 a.m. at the Atkinson Park Rec Center. The program offers two sessions—June 11-July 12 and July 16-Aug. 15. Sessions are split into Mondays and Wednesdays, and Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Enrollment is open to kids entering third grade.

"The bulk of our programs are for fourth- and fifth-graders, but even middle school kids and some high school kids can find activities they can enjoy," Kearney said.

Affordability is an important feature of the park summer programs. Scholarships are offered.

Fees are $50 for each activity over each five-week session. Or you can pay $30 daily (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and enjoy all activities. Kids in grades 3-6 who plan to stay at the park all day must either register in four activities or pay the daily rate.

To help ensure your child's space in any activity, it's best to hand-deliver your form to the Atkinson Park office. You may also fax it to 726-5501, or mail it to City of Ketchum Parks & Recreation, Box 2315, Ketchum, ID 83340.

Friday Fun Days

The Friday Adventures, pioneered by the Ketchum summer youth program, are a very popular feature of the summer program. They send first-come, first-served entrants ages 8 and older on trips and out-of-town activities.

Sign up early for the Friday Adventures. Many have limited space. Adventures include:

June 15—Frisbee golf extravaganza up and down Baldy;

June 22—Hayspur Fish Hatchery and Silver Creek swimming holes;

June 29—Easley Hot Springs "Mount Park Rat" extravaganza;

Also on June 29—Junior Chuck Gates Invitational golf tournament at Bigwood Golf Course;

July 6—Southern Idaho geocaching and also a mountain bike adventure;

July 13—Singles tennis tournament at the park;

July 20—Caving near Shoshone;

July 27—River rafting down the Salmon River day stretch;

Aug. 3—Baker Lake hike;

Aug. 10—Dierkes Lake swimming trip to Twin Falls;

Aug. 16-17—Singles and doubles end-of-summer tennis tournaments;

Aug. 29-31—End of summer campout.

Special recreational opportunities are the United Kingdom Recreational Soccer Camp from Aug. 20-24 (; Crazy Dress Day Wednesday, June 27; and "Park Rat Games" on July 11 and Aug. 15. The Park Rat Idol Talent Show and Bake Sale will be fun to watch and enjoy eating on Thursday, Aug. 9.

The majority of the youth activities are conducted at Atkinson Park. Always keep in mind that the kids are grouped by the grade they are entering in the 2012-13 academic year. For information, contact the park at 726-7820 or visit

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