Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Join ‘Park Rats’ at Atkinson Park

A feast of supervised fun

    Ketchum Director of Parks & Recreation Jen Smith said it best about what she calls the longest-running and most affordable Youth Recreation Program in the Wood River Valley.
    “The great outdoors—we can’t seem to get enough of it around here. Summer means longer days and warmer weather, rivers to wade and peaks to climb…We look forward to spending another summer with you!” she wrote to introduce the Ketchum’s “Fun Department” summer program.
    Safe to say, the valley’s lengthy list of summer youth recreation options starts with the Summer Youth Program at Ketchum’s Atkinson Park—now 37 years young-at-heart and planning for more.
    “Park Rats” have belonged at Ketchum’s Atkinson Park during the summer for over two generations. The city’s Recreation Supervisor John Kearney grew up as a “Park Rat” and knows that a summer filled with supervised activities at Atkinson Park makes for happy children.
    The 10-week Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department program starting Monday, June 9 and continuing weekdays through Thursday, Aug. 14 is packed with enough variety to satisfy any child willing to try something new and meet new friends.
    Once you’re spent a summer in the Atkinson Park Summer Youth Recreation program, you’re officially a “Park Rat.” The park is a safe summer haven for fun, where there’s something happening all the time—except for July 4, when everybody celebrates Independence Day.
    Children are separated into three age groups for their sessions—grades 3-4 (ages 8-9), grades 5-6 (ages 10-11) and grades 7-9 (ages 12-14). There are two sessions, the first from June 9-July 10, the second July 14-Aug. 14. You must be entering the third grade to sign up for the park program.
    Sessions are split into Mondays and Wednesdays, and Tuesdays and Thursdays. The kids are occupied each day from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Baseball at the park, skateboarding at Guy Coles Skate Park, flag football, juggling, golf for grades 3-6 or 7-9, tumbling, kickball, birding and “Park Rat Frenzy” are just some of the myriad of activities.
    Start a day with yoga, tennis, gardening, skateboarding, ball sports, volleyball or Swim Club at Zenergy. Add things like mountain biking, soccer, performing arts and lawn games like bocce ball and frisbee golf.
    If you need to be inside, you can play cards or board games. Test your creativity with arts and crafts, and the performing arts. Take a chance with “Challenge Me,” a class designed to help kids try new things—like examining snakes up close. Who knows what passion you’ll discover?
    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.
    Besides Kearney, those on hand to guide the kids and run the programs are Youth Recreation Coordinator 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.
    Online registration starts April 25 at and by visiting Parks & Recreation on the city’s home page. It’s vital to sign up early because many activities have limited space.
    To help ensure your child’s space in any activity, it’s best to hand-deliver your form to the Atkinson Park office, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone number is 726-7820.
    Friday Adventures, pioneered by the Ketchum summer youth program, are a popular feature of the summer program. They send first-come, first-served entrants ages 8 and older on trips and out-of-town activities. Here is a tentative 2014 summer schedule:

  •     June 13—Frisbee golf extravaganza up and down Baldy;
  •     June 20—Hayspur Fish Hatchery and Silver Creek swimming holes;
  •     June 27—Easley Hot Springs “Mount Park Rat” extravaganza;
  •     Also on June 28—11th annual Junior Chuck Gates Invitational golf tournament at Bigwood Golf Course;
  •     July 11—Singles tennis tournament at the park;
  •     July 18—Caving near Shoshone;
  •     July 25—River rafting down the Salmon River day stretch;
  •     Aug. 1—Baker Lake hike;
  •     Aug. 8—Dierkes Lake swimming trip to Twin Falls;
  •      Aug. 15—Singles tennis tournament;
  •     Aug. 27-29—End of summer camp-out open to kids enrolled in the Summer Youth Program.

    Special recreational opportunities include the United Kingdom Recreational Soccer Camp from Aug. 18-22 (; Crazy Dress Day Wednesday, June 25; and “Park Rat Games” on July 10 and Aug. 13.
    The Park Rat Idol Talent Show and Bake Sale will be yummy and fun to watch on Thursday, Aug. 7.

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