In the blink of an eye summer is at an end, and so is my first year as Director of the Suffield Parks and Recreation Department. What a fantastic year I have had, filled with meeting wonderful people that live and work in Suffield, and sharing in their passion for the Town! I was fortunate that the previous director, staff, and commission had successful system and many programs already in place. Over the past year we have continued to run many of these programs all while building on this strong foundation and expanding and enhancing our offerings.
This summer was filled with long-standing programs like our Kids Korner/Morning Munchkins’ Day Camp. I cannot say enough positive things about Donna Carney-Bastrzycki, Director of Special Programs, and her staff at this camp. We are fortunate to have not only a knowledgeable staff, but also one that’s caring for the young children (ages 3 – 7) goes well beyond what is expected at a typical day camp. They bring the fun, and along with many special guests, help make it a great summer for all the campers. At this camp, and all of our summer camps, we work hand-in-hand with the school department to be sure we can service as many children with varying needs as possible.
Two of the programs that underwent some changes this summer were the Sunrise Day Camp and our separate Tween Adventure Camp. Under the direction of Jen Filer, Suffield’s new Recreation and Sports Programmer, the camp directors mixed in some our traditional activities, but also saw a shift in the curriculum to include exciting learning based activities. Some of these activities included: nature education, swimming, hiking, cooperative games, and many guest presenters. All guests had fantastic presentations, including the Monarch Butterfly Ranch, Police and Fire Departments (assisting with the egg drop and water slide), Lyme Disease prevention, and two-time Himalayan Mountain trekker Scott Emmons.
The Tween Adventure Camp saw the most changes this summer. It was rewarding to see the growth of the campers that started out a bit nervous about our “adventure” trips, as they found out just how fun it can be going a little outside your comfort zone. Not only did we add in trips (tubing down the to Farmington River and the Brownstone Adventure Park,) but also we collaborated with Suffield Youth Services Coordinator Nikki Lengyel. Nikki came to camp to lead fun team building activities, and minute-to-win-it style games. As a bonus, campers went on field trips to the youth center to connect them with the awesome activities Nikki offers during non-school hours. Many children didn’t previously know of the center, but are now planning on going back when the school year starts!
In addition to the many wonderful summer programs, almost every week had approximately thirty Parks and Recreation programs to choose from, including our recently added Premier Field Hockey Camp. This camp had professional coaches from all levels, including high school, club, college, and even two at the international level. Over sixty athletes worked extremely hard on the turf at Suffield High School to improve their field hockey game. One of the highlights was having Williams College strength and conditioning coach and owner of Livingstone Speed Academy, Rob Livingstone at camp to work on speed and agility with the campers. That same day the campers, coaches, and even some parents were treated in having Olympic Gold Medalist Samantha Arsenault-Livingstone (Sydney 2000) lead the campers through a workshop on a variety of topics. We were very fortunate to have Samantha address topics that transcend sports such as mental health, social issues, success and failure, and life as a student-athlete. You should see the pictures of the campers wearing her Olympic Gold Medal!
Moving forward, we have a lot to be excited about at Suffield Parks and Recreation. This year will bring a new slate of “Family” programs. These programs will offer fun activities for the entire family. One family night may have a bounce house, arts & crafts, and basketball games for different ages. Another night may be filled with a campfire and s’mores at Sunrise Park, while other family members play a game of outdoor Yardzee (an oversized game of Yahtzee). I am really looking forward to providing family fun activities for you right here in Suffield.
Some may not be familiar with the types of programs that we offer at Parks and Recreation. We strive to offer diverse programs, well beyond traditional programs of sports and day camps. While all of our programs are inclusive, we offer fantastic special needs programming such as our Bowling Buddies Outing Group. Check it out! We also offer enrichment programs for kids and adults such as cupcake and cake decorating classes, fitness classes, and after-school programs just to name a few. Keep an eye out for our seasonal brochures, which list a wide range of recreational activities for youth, adults, and families. You can also stay up to date on all department happenings by following us on social media (@suffieldrec for all platforms- Instagram and Facebook).
Lastly, we would love to see you at our 40th annual 5k Race/Walk and 10k Road Race sponsored by First Suffield Bank- a division of People’s Bank. All will be held on Saturday, September 7 with the races/walk beginning at approximately 8 a.m. at Suffield Middle School. For more information or to register through our official registration sponsor, Dick’s Sporting Goods, please visit: www.suffieldrec.com.