Aug 11, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Joe Patrick is one of those guys who never grew out of the need to have a great time. His day job — managing editor of a racecar magazine — gives this away. Then again, so does his other job, as director of parks and recreation for the town of Elbridge.
Most recently, Patrick channeled his enthusiasm into another successful Summer Recreation Program at the Jordan-Elbridge campus. On the last day of the camp, Patrick offered the Observer a tour of all the different classes, starting with arts and crafts. Patrick didn’t hesitate to join in on the fun.
“Every year I get a tie-dye shirt,” he said. “That’s it.”
“Okay what did you want? Swirl, bull’s eye, or stripes?” asked Penny Stoffle, one of many JE teachers involved with the program.
“Yeah, bull’s eye,” he said without pause. “Right on the back!”
The summer recreation program is always getting bigger. This year Patrick brought in 123 kids. Vern Richardson, who oversees parks and recreation for the town board, says Patrick is a great recruiter. This summer’s softball league nearly broke an attendance record with 249 kids — just one shy of the record.
The camp is always changing, too — right down to the design of the pamphlet.
Mike English, a graduate of SUNY Cortland and JE alum, served as an unofficial assistant director at the camp. On Thursday, he had the task of brain storming with the other directors to come up with descriptions of their classes.
To Patrick, the names alone didn’t say enough — starting with “Fun Run & Games.”
“You know, what does that mean? Does it mean having the kids run 10 miles every day?”
And then there’s “Clowning.”
“The clowning is kind of misnamed because they do very little clowning,” Patrick said. “And for some reason it seems that people have issues with the word ‘clowning.'”
Most of the programs, however, were not misnamed. In fact, the 30 kids enrolled in the Musical Theatre Class knew exactly what they were getting themselves into — two weeks, for three hours each day, of intensive practice leading to a dress rehearsal and final performance. This year’s show was “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Vern Richardson noted the impressive outcome at a recent town board meeting.
“It’s amazing how these kids, with six or seven short practices, can memorize these lines, not forget them, and know where they’re supposed to be on stage all the time,” he said. “It’s just phenomenal.”
The strict time commitment of the theatre class is unique within the camp; most kids have the option to choose two different classes every day. The classes are taught by experienced counselors who, for the most part, were at one time campers themselves.
Patrick attributes the success of the camp not only to the high school and college student directors, but to the JE staff who keep everything running smoothly as well. First on his list might be JE’s head custodian, Gary Allen.
“We couldn’t do this without him,” Patrick said.
Brad Hamer, JE athletic director, is also instrumental to the camp’s success. For one, Hamer allows Patrick easy access to all the materials he could ever need for the various physical activities of the camp.
Hamer’s non-competitive attitude about sports, at least during camp hours, echoes Patrick’s fun-centered approach.
“This is just fun,” Hamer said. “During the year, the rec programs, unfortunately they get too competitive sometimes.”
His goal is to get the kids moving. He also hopes to prepare them for the modified programs, where the competition starts to heat up.
Patrick calls it “age-appropriate play.” For kids this age — the program is open to grades first through seventh — “we don’t want to be focused on competition and result-driven,” Patrick said. “We’re working on technique and skill development.”
Summer recreation is past, but the parks and recreation department is not slowing down. A new lacrosse camp for boys ages 9 through 12 is scheduled for the week of Aug. 23 and sign-ups for fall soccer, which begins in late August, are underway. To register for either program or learn more about the department, call Patrick at 399-0740 or email email@example.com.