Mixed results for summer programs

Nicholas Mercer
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Bay Roberts sees significant drop Carbonear on the increase

Ian Flynn is director of recreation with the Town of Bay Roberts.

The two biggest towns in Conception Bay North appear to be moving in opposite directions when it comes to enrolment in summer recreation programming.

Bay Roberts saw a significant decrease - nearly 50 per cent - in registration this year, while there was a noted increase in Carbonear.

The issue was discussed at a regular public meeting last week of the Bay Roberts town council.

Turns out the town had about 170 children signed up for the seven-week program in 2012, while more than 300 took part in 2011.

In Carbonear, meanwhile, the numbers grew by up to 30 children, with a total enrolment of some 150.

Bay Roberts recreation director Ian Flynn seemed unfazed by the decline.

"We find it comes in waves," Flynn explained. "One year, we'll have 180 kids and the next year, we'll have over 300."

This year will obviously be recorded as a lull in the tide, and has prompted Flynn to start looking at ways to spark a renewed interest.

For starters, the format could be dramatically overhauled.

"I'm looking at following some other town models and doing a week-by-week registration instead of the seven-week program," said Flynn.

Flynn is also looking to add themes.

"One week would be a jungle theme, and you'd gear your entire week toward whatever that theme was," he said. "It adds variety."

Flynn said one reason behind the decline is the variety of programming available to young people in the region, including a surge in the popularity of minor softball and soccer, and the fact that so many families are away for extended periods during the summer.

"One week we have 80 kids and the next week you have 20 kids," he said.

Flynn said the proposed change in structure is an attempt to breathe new life into the program.

Coun. Wade Oates said there are also fewer children. Oates is the town's representative on the recreation committee.

"Everyone is starting their own association, and you're fighting for the same kids at the end of the day," added Flynn.

Did 'fairly well'

In Carbonear, recreation director Rob Button said his program did "fairly well" this past summer.

"There's more awareness of recreational needs in this day-and-age," he said.

"We dropped a bit because other towns began running their own programs, so we weren't getting the outside children," added Button.

He attributed this year's increase to a greater focus on the details.

"We made sure we followed our lesson plan," he explained.

nmercer@cbncompass.ca

Organizations: Bay Roberts town council

Geographic location: Carbonear, Bay Roberts, Conception Bay North

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