Rec program provides positive outlet, says Potsdam woman
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 6:36 am

To the Editor:

This letter was originally sent to Mr. Yugartis regarding the Potsdam Recreation Department.

For the past three years I have served as Potsdam Summer Recreation’s Playground Director. I have supervised children aged 3-14 years old, as well staff aged 16 and up.

This program is an outlet for the youth of Potsdam to be just that, youth. The average school day of a child does not give them much time to be kids. They are preparing for state tests and doing a rigorous routine with common core curriculum.

In the summer these kids have time to relax and be kids. Within the recreation program they are allowed to be “kids” and have supervision in a safe environment. They have some structured events in the short time they are at recreation. Whether they are creating crafts; making sandcastles (with the aid of a lifeguard supervising and staff); playing on a slip and slide; having a guest speaker or a group comes to share a talent with us (dancing, fire department, Lowe’s); going on a road trip that will last them a lifetime as a Rec Trip; or just hanging out playing games or talking these children are all together as a group learning social skills and staying out of trouble in the community.

The past three years I, as a 40 year-old trained and certified teacher, have learned so much about children outside the school environment. This program has made me see beyond the textbook and look at the diverse population of children within the classrooms. I have seen many grow from year to year and heard them say “I cannot wait to come back next year! We will do…”

My nephew lives in Indiana and he said, “I wish we had a rec in Indiana, because a lot of kids would stay out of trouble.”

My daughter attends and I have seen much growth within her. She was a shy girl when she first began attending. She’d sit by my side. Now three years later, she texts me, “Mom, I was thinking and we could do this with our kids at rec….” She actively participates with the children who attend recreation. She offers to help the recreation leaders supervising the little ones that attend. To go from a shy young girl to this is amazing and it is because of the Potsdam Summer Recreation’s Programming.

I can only speak for myself and my experiences, but I know that many children have gained much from the Potsdam Recreation Department. When my daughter was 5 she attended the mini T-ball group. There are so many wonderful opportunities for young and old made available by the Potsdam Recreation Department and I bet if you spoke to anyone in the community, they’d say “I remember when…” whether it is related to summer recreation, a sporting event, the beach, learning to swim under the supervision of Mrs. Garrow, or the wonderful staff that Potsdam Recreation has.

Generations of children growing into adults have had experience and look forward to bringing their children to a place like Potsdam that has outlets for their children. If anything I can say, it is let the kids be kids in a place with supervision, because without the Recreation Department’s positive influence, who knows what would be the outlet they chose.

Valarie Simmons