Thursday, July 30, 2015

Behind the scenes at Rec & Ed: 5 mid-summer priorities

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Rec & Ed

The rest of the school district may be sleeping for another few weeks, but Rec & Ed's summer camps are running at full speed. This week marks the middle of the summer -- the perfect time to pull back the curtain and showcase some of our behind-the-scenes activities.  

Mid-summer is a critical time for us. Besides actually providing camps, what are we up to?  

1. Using parent survey results to make mid-course corrections. Yes, we take those camp satisfaction surveys seriously! This week we're meeting with staff and contractors to review results and make improvements. (Want to send us feedback via email? Send a message to

2. Continuing our scheduled and "pop-in" visits to camps. We look for several indicators of a quality camp experience, including campers safely having fun and staff actively engaged with campers. Feedback is shared immediately with camp directors and staff. 

Rec & Ed camp specialist Brady Peck (in green shirt) with our
High School Volunteer Leadership Team.

3. Supporting our High School Volunteers. About a hundred trained high school volunteers are helping out at our summer camps. 

4. Keeping up with national trends and best practices in summer camps and youth development. We're going to trainings, reading journals and watching webinars. It's inspiring to learn how other communities support youth development through summer camps. 

5. And yes...we're already brainstorming for next year. Yesterday Sally Searls (Lifelong Learning Manager), Brady Peck (Camp Specialist) and I bounced ideas around for new types of camps we could offer. These conversations happen all the time! 

We still have lots of enriching and fun camps on deck for the second half of summer. In August, look for our KidsSport, Engineering 101, Science for Our Planet, and Cake Decorating camps, among many others. Information and easy registration is available at our summer camp page

Have some feedback or an idea for a camp? We'd like to hear from you! Email Brady at

Friday, July 17, 2015

Flashback Friday: What games did Ann Arbor children play in 1939? [With Poll]

Providing summer activities for children has been a priority for the Ann Arbor Public Schools and the City of Ann Arbor since the early 1900's. By 1939, the Ann Arbor Recreation Commission had been running a popular neighborhood playground program for many years. AAPS personnel provided the programming at 15 city parks. This was the beginning of a beautiful city-school partnership that continues to this day. 

So what types of organized games were offered in Ann Arbor parks way back in 1939? The short answer is a huge variety of games and activities. Which of the following wasn't offered? The answers may surprise you! (Answers are posted at the bottom.)

Then as now, music was an important part of youth enrichment. 

Question 1: The answer is C, Capture the Flag. Even though Capture the Flag is one of America's oldest games, it wasn't mentioned in the long list of structured 1939 playground activities. The list of summer park activities did include all of the other answers, plus softball, basketball, bean bags, kite flying contests, dramatics, handicrafts, and many others. 

Question 2: The answer is B, Ukelele. Playground music also include harmonicas and toy bands. 

The historic document that this information is based on (a memo to Mayor Walter C. Sadler dated April 10, 1939) will be a source for future trivia questions and blog posts. We're even talking about having a Rec & Ed "throw back" family event where adults and youth can try out some of the games that are now just memories.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Special discount for KidSport camp!

Just announced! Discount on popular KidSport Camp

Register now for Week 6 (July 20-24) or Week 8 (August 3-7) of KidSport Camps and save $10 off a half day camp and $20 off a full day camp! 

Offered in partnership with the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology, KidSport Camp provides children the opportunity to learn and refine non-competitive sport specific skills, team building, and social skills. Morning only, afternoon only, and full day options are available for children ages 4-13. 

KidSport campers enjoy swimming in Scarlett Middle School's
newly reopened pool.

To get the discount, simply include the code below in the coupon box when checking out on-line.

For any AM or PM only camp, Save $10; use coupon code 10Kid15
For any Full Day camp, Save $20; use coupon code 20Kid15 

Find out more and register right here!

Questions? Contact Elyse at 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

National poll: youth sports promote social-emotional development [NPR Audio Link]

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Ann Arbor Rec & Ed

Last week, an NPR story on a national "Sports and Health" survey had me sitting in my parked car until it ended. The poll of adults covered adult sports participation and parental opinions on their children's participation in sports. 

In just a few minutes, the story covered all of the reasons we at Rec & Ed invest in youth and adult sports. 

Yes, team sports provide excellent opportunities for youth to be physically active, become more agile and develop better coordination. But the story also talked about the social and emotional benefits of sports participation. 

The chart above shows other ways that parents felt sports benefited their child. The majority of parents believed that sports participation benefited their children in specific social-emotional areas, such as discipline/dedication, how to get along with other people, mental health, and social life. Many parents and experts also believe that the skills kids develop by participating on a team can lead to success on work teams and other adult experiences.

Ann Arbor Rec & Ed's youth team sports programs emphasize team work, learning the game and fun. Our coaches help children learn how to handle wins and losses gracefully and how to practice for improvement. With our kid-friendly policy, there are no cuts, and all kids play at each game. Online registration is now open for fall youth soccervolleyball and field hockey. Register by July 20 and save $10.00!

Listen to the story here:  
Our adult team sports program provides those 18 and over with opportunities to continue playing the sports they love while socializing and staying physically active. We strive to keep our prices low and offer scholarships so all can participate. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 4th discount: Save $40 on next week's Hands-On Museum camp

Act now -- only 6 spots left!

Special discount to celebrate July 4th.  
Save $40 on Maker, Tinker Tester! Camp 
Regular price: $269. Now only $229 for this full-day camp.

Youth at a Hands-On Museum camp
test their creations.
Camp Description:
Explore the laws of physics by building an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine. Connect simple machines in series to create a complex contraption limited only by your imagination.  Don’t just learn science, experience it. Offered in cooperation with Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

Open to students in grades 2 - 5.

Camp Dates:  July 6 - 10  at Wines School in Ann Arbor
Extended care available. Fee: $79.
Scholarship slots available (must have pre-approved Rec & Ed scholarship).

Register by July 3 at 4:00 p.m. to get this special discount. Available seats allocated on a first come, first served basis.

To register call Nate at 734-994-2300 ext. 53234.