When I was a senior in high school, I decided to intern with my Athletic Director in the hopes of getting some sports management experience. Now as a rising junior at the University of Vermont and picking up a minor in sports management, what better way to spend my time than at EJRP coaching multiple sports?! I was hired to coach the Intro to Sports program where young children learn a new sport and the fundamentals of the sport every week. I also coach the Gymnastics Camp where kids learn all different skills on each of the 4 events. I love coaching and teaching the kids and interacting with them as well. It is great to see that in the Introduction to Sports Camp, I see child to child interactions, child to parent interactions, and child to coach interactions. Not only am I providing the kids with teaching skills that I have learned from my own sports experiences myself but I am learning how to adapt to all different levels of sports skills and kids in all different age groups. One of the best feelings is when I run into kids outside of EJRP that I coach or have coached in the past and they have a big smile on their face and say “Hi coach Olivia!” EJRP is a great environment to work in. There are friendly staff members, lots of camps, and tons of opportunities for kids and employees to make new friends! That is what makes me come back to EJRP year after year and I wouldn’t want to spend my summer any differently!
This April break, we took a group of 43 8th Grade students to Washington, DC for a memorable experience. We couldn't have asked for a better group for our inaugural trip and are already busy planning for next year!
DC is an amazing city, with so much to see and do, and much of it free.
We drove about 1,600 miles, took over 90,000 steps, climbed 170 flights of stairs, visited 32 sites, and walked 42 miles, averaging over 8 miles a day - more than the distance from Maple Street Park to the ECHO Center downtown! We hope the students learned a lot, or at the very least, how to walk on the right side of the sidewalk!
-Night time trolley tour around the city and viewing of illuminated monuments
-Changing of the guard and JFK Eternal Flame at Arlington National Cemetery
-Seeing where Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre
-Guided tours of FDR, MLK, Jefferson, Lincoln, WWII, Vietnam, and Korean War Memorials
-Library of Congress tour
-Paddle boating on the Tidal Basin on a sunny, 80 degree day
-Smithsonian American History, Natural History, Air and Space, and Art Museums
-White House tour
-Finding and posing for a picture on Vermont Avenue
-Meeting Senator Leahy at the Capitol and talking all things Batman and mental health
-A funny, interactive production of "Shear Madness" at the Kennedy Center
-U.S. Capitol tour
-Delicious dinners at Ben's Chili Bowl, Carmine's, and Thunder Grill
-Scavenger hunt at the Newseum
-Going undercover at the International Spy Museum
-Hot breakfasts, a cool pool, and comfy beds at our hotel in Chantilly, Virginia
A huge thank you to all of our chaperones who volunteered their time and sanity to accompany us and keep us all safe and cared for!
It was a pleasure getting to know each and every student and parent involved through registration, meetings, fundraising, and of course the trip itself. If you get the chance, we encourage you to visit our nation's capital!
Check out all of the pictures from our trip at https://ejindc2015.shutterfly.com/pictures.
A parent from the Maple Street Swim Lessons said to me on Friday that she hadn't really had any expectations for the Maple Street Lessons but that she was blown away by how extraordinary the swim instructors were and that, had she had any original expectations, they certainly would have been surpassed.
Then she asked me how it happened, that the swim instructors were ALL so kind and so gracious with children. She asked me, somewhat off the cuff, if they were hand picked.
I said yes.
At some point in their lives, each swim instructor or lesson guard has revealed to me their kind nature. Sometimes it happened because I was their coach when they were very young or sometimes it happened that I/we crossed paths when they were in school or out in the world and I had a moment to observe their manner with their peers. But, always, always, always, the first thing hired is kindness.
It's my good fortune to know and come across, in this world, an extraordinary amount of kindness. I am grateful to these young instructors who have taught me far more than I ever could have taught them. They are my friends, my colleagues, my mentors and we stand, equal, on a pool deck.
Swim with Annie
Maple Street Swim Lesson Coordinator
While the photos below are from the Summer of 2013, the kindness of our instructors is very apparent. Thanks to Kayhl Cooper, our photographer, for knowing just how to reveal that kindness to us.
Our Summer Special Events brochure will be hitting mailboxes in the next few days and this week our staff got to see the printing process at Catamount Color. Vice President Kevin McGrath, whose parents started the company from the ground-up over forty years ago, took us on a tour of the large factory, amazing us with just how many projects they work on at once. The amount of equipment, supplies, and staff they have - who all do such a great job - was impressive. For as busy as they are, they maintain a personal relationship with their customers; Kevin personally delivers our brochure proofs to our office and is always happy to entertain our ideas and work within our deadlines. It was a very cool thing to see! Thanks to Kevin and the rest of The Offset House for welcoming us and doing amazing work! Our latest brochure is now available on our website and registration is open.
Summer must be near...at least we hope so. As I sit here writing this, it is 52 degrees and cloudy. Not quite the 75 degrees it was just yesterday and far from what it was last year at this time. All of us here at EJRP are ready for the weather to catch up with us; we've had our summer camps and events planned since January and are eager for them to start. Every evening the parking lot fills up as Little League players and their families flood the park, community members visit the playground, runners partake in the 5K race series, and preschoolers learn sports basics. The sound of children giggling, bats hitting baseballs, and the smell of hot dogs on the grill make it feel like it's nearly here. All signs point to summer and we couldn't be more excited for this one. Our brand new Camp REACH has filled up, we are offering a lot of new, unique programs, we've booked some great performers for the 4th of July and Friday Night Family Fun Series, made improvements to our parks and events like the Essex Half Marathon, and are introducing our first-ever nighttime race. But most of all, we can't wait to spend the summer with you! Whether you bring your kids to the playground, take a dip in the pool, or participate in a program, we look forward to helping to make your summer a little happier. We know it will be over in the blink of an eye, but we hope you are able to enjoy it as much as possible. Here's to summer 2014!
As many of you know, our former Assistant Director of seven years, Mark Brislin, recently accepted the position of Director of Parks and Recreation in Claremont, NH. Having heard many wonderful things about Claremont's new $10 million facility, we wanted to see it for ourselves. On Friday we took a field trip to check it out and have lunch with Mark. In March 2013, the CSBCC celebrated its grand opening, home to a 25 yard indoor pool, teaching pool, elevated track, basketball courts, fitness facility, aerobics room, multi-function rooms, conference room, game room, shower and locker rooms, and kitchen. We might have been a little jealous. The Claremont Savings Bank donated $3 million in addition to the land the facility sits on. The remaining $7 million was secured through fundraising and a bond. Claremont's population is about 15,000 and the CSBCC currently has about 5,000 members. According to Mark, "For the month of February we hosted 20 meetings and parties, and had 11,569 members check in to use the facility." January marked their one millionth member check-in, just ten months after opening.
After visiting Mark on Friday, we are coming full circle today with welcoming our new Assistant Director Brian Roy. We are excited to see what he will do and are confident he will be a great addition to our team.
Last spring we forged a partnership with the Green Mountain Derby Dames to offer a one-week summer camp, as an alternative for girls who don't just want to play softball or soccer. The results were fantastic and many of the campers have been involved with GMDD since then. We decided to continue our relationship and are excited to announce that we will be offering a spring junior league and another one-week summer camp. The Minor Catastrophes is Vermont's first girls' junior roller derby team. We asked one participant and her parents to share their experience with us.
Ingrid Gilliam, age 8
“I was worried a little bit to start Roller Derby Camp and then I learned that I could just be myself and do my best. I didn’t know how to skate when I first got there so a Derby Dame went off to the side to help me and after that first day, I could skate! I thought it would take the whole camp week for me to learn. When it was the winter, I started to miss roller derby and then when my Mom told me it would start up again soon, I was happy and glad.
My derby name is Punky Bruiser and I LOVE roller derby!”
Christine and Ben Gilliam, parents of Ingrid, age 8
We cannot say enough wonderful things about the experience our daughter, Ingrid has had with the Derby Dames and as a member of the Minor Catastrophes.
We learned of the Derby Dames through a friend of ours on the team. We went to a bout and we were all hooked, especially Ingrid. She asked when she could learn to skate and be on the team as we watched that bout.
Ingrid was over the moon when we found out there was to be a roller derby camp for a week in July 2013. We signed her up right away and went to the Bruised Boutique (amazing place, great people) in New Hampshire (on our way to MA) for her gear.
In July, Ingrid carried all of her gear into camp for day 1. She was instantly greeted by the Derby Dames and they offered her help to ‘gear up’. The girls learned the proper way to put on their gear and once they had everything on, they needed to be inspected by a Derby Dame. (The attention to safety was much appreciated.)
We watched for a few minutes and were in awe of the attention, support, care, and excitement the Dames offered to all of the girls. Ingrid was struggling to stand up on her skates when we left the rink and when we returned 4 hours later, she was skating around the rink on her own! On her first day she also left with her derby name: Punky Bruiser!
The amount of confidence, comradery, and empowerment that Ingrid has gained by being a member of the Minor Catastrophes is phenomenal. We did not expect to have so many long-lasting effects for our daughter (and ourselves) from one week of camp but that is exactly what has occurred. She looks forward to any opportunity she has to gather with her teammates to skate.
Ingrid’s reaction to Spring Roller Derby: ”YES! AWESOME! Did you sign me up yet?!?!” Answer: “ABSOLUTELY!”
Thank you Derby Dames and EJRP and hurry up parents! Sign your daughter up for this amazing team: The Minor Catastrophes!
Announcing the Minor Catastrophes at the Derby Dames' November 2013 bout.
Today we say goodbye to a leader in our community. A friend, a mentor, a true recreation professional. Co-workers, community leaders, and friends came out last night to congratulate him, say goodbye, and wish him luck. When asked to describe him in one word, most called him loyal, honest, funny, and diligent.
For nearly seven years, Mark Brislin has served as our Assistant Director. Throughout his tenure, Mark has overseen nearly every aspect of our department – and has made everything that he has managed, better. For ﬁve years, Mark oversaw the Village Kids afterschool program. Mark worked to meet growing community demands for quality afterschool care by expanding the capacity of each school from 29 to 59 kids per day. He transformed our partial day preschool to a full-day, year-round program. And, Mark led the way for our 29-kid per week, Camp Maple Street, to become a ﬂagship program, now supporting 92-campers per week. Mark has overseen our special events throughout his time, continuing and enhancing our long time staples, but he has added many that are now regular ﬁxtures in our community. He brought us the Halloween Hustle, the Fall Festival, May Running Series, Block Party Fun Run, Essex Has Talent, Friday Night Family Fun Series, Winter Family Fun Nights, the Community Bonﬁre, ½ Marathon, and more. Mark more than doubled of the capacity of our annual senior Thanksgiving lunch. Throughout all of these, it has been Mark’s ability to establish relationships and form partnerships with other community groups and local businesses, which has led to such quality programming and broad community support. He has shown ingenuity and persistence in his work. Mark is a dedicated rec professional who could be found at all hours of the day, on weekends and holidays, making our community a better place. Mark ran the day-to-day happenings in our oﬃce. He had a great balance of work and play, and kept our oﬃce environment friendly and fun. Most importantly, Mark is an altruistic person. He genuinely cares about those around him. He is honest, kind, trustworthy, and fair. Our loss is another community’s gain, as Mark is becoming the Parks and Recreation Director for Claremont, New Hampshire. While he leaves us today, his legacy, program contributions, and impact on our community will all stay with us for many years to come. Thanks Mark for your service and friendship. We will miss you greatly.
The EJRP Family
On December 13th the Fleming Village Kids Afterschool Program took a field trip to Fletcher Allen Hospital to donate toys to the Vermont Children’s Hospital. The toys were purchased from the Vermont Children’s Hospital Wish List on Amazon.com with proceeds from a bake sale Village Kids held in November. Additional toys and games were donated as part of a generous grant from Hasbro and GenerationOn. The grant from Hasbro and GenerationOn is a part of a bigger initiative called “Be a Joy Maker”. They are working together with community organizations to donate $1 Million in toys and games to kids in need this holiday season. The Fleming Village Kids Program was able to donate almost 40 toys during their visit and also met Dr. Lewis First (of “First with Kids” fame) who is the chief of Pediatrics at the Vermont Children’s Hospital.
To learn more about how to “Be a Joy Maker” please visit: http://givejoy.generationon.org/
To see items still available to donate on the Vermont Children’s Hospital Wish List please click here.
In addition to visiting Fletcher Allen, Fleming Village Kid will also be visiting the First Congressional Church on Wednesday, December 18th to donate toys and games to children in need in our area. This donation is also made possible by the Hasbro and GenerationOn grant.
Thank you to the great team of counselors at Village Kids and to the amazing kids who put in the effort to bake cookies, advertise the project, sell food, wrap presents, and deliver joy.
Have a great holiday season,
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we wanted to share a blog post written by NRPA staff members. We hope we offer things for you to be grateful for, as we are certainly thankful for great community members like you.
Written by Lauren Hoffmann, Senior PR and Communications Manager, NRPA with contribution from Rich Dolesh, VP for Conservation and Parks, NRPA
Despite the commercialization and shopping frenzy of recent years, this time of the year is all about gratitude, reflecting on why we are thankful and giving back. For many of us at Thanksgiving, it is tradition to talk with our families, friends and neighbors about for what it is we are thankful.
Family, health, good fortune, a hot meal, jobs, friendships, the ability to spend quality time with one another and the list can go on and on.
Well, what about adding one thing to the list – community parks and recreation.
I’d like to offer that all people should add to their “thankful for” list the parks and recreation in their community. Not only are we lucky to live in a culture that accepts the understanding that these places are truly for the people, but all year long parks and recreation quietly, and many times unnoticed, give so many gifts to us. They deserve a hearty “Thank You” dished out along with a hearty serving of sweet potatoes next week.
We put together 10 reasons why we should be thankful for parks and recreation (notice how so many of these tie to the ones I mention above?).
1. Parks and recreation allow us to become healthy and stay fit for adults AND our youth making the connection that getting active and eating healthy is fun and good.
2. Parks are places to see wildlife and experience nature, breathe in fresh air and appreciate what is natural and wholesome around us; they pass on the benefits of conservation and stewardship and cultivate a new appreciation for nature among the next generation.
3. Parks and recreation are great places to walk, hike and bike, maybe even pick up a new activity like skateboarding or pickleball.
4. Parks are places to enjoy a picnic – who doesn’t love to eat al fresco!
5. Parks and recreation bring generations together. Not only that, they bring all types of people together no matter age, race, income and ability. Community parks and recreation is one of the highest and best forms of ‘public good’—the right to enjoy your life, your health and your liberty.
6. Parks are places for festivals, concerts, art displays, music, craft fairs and community events. Where else can you find all that?
7. Parks and recreation provides places for sports—teams, individuals, practice and tournaments. Many elite and even some pro athletes got their start at the local park and rec.
8. Parks can revitalize underserved communities transforming them into vibrant destinations.
9. Parks and recreation provide a safe place for kids and are one of the largest providers of care during out-of-school times (afterschool, before school, weekends, holidays and the summer).
10. Parks and recreation offer the opportunity to volunteer and give back to our communities, the environment and others. On the flip-side, they are where we can go if we need help – many of our local parks provide low- to no-cost meals, enrichment programs, senior care and therapeutic recreation opportunities.
Every week we'll have a different blogger, from the Director to the Gymnastics Coordinator to a Camp Maple Street Counselor.