For love of the games

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.'"

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