From baby-sitter safety classes to dek hockey leagues, the Butler County Parks and Recreation Department is determined to get children outside and moving.
Tim Calvert, program and aquatics manager for the department, said children can shake of the winter doldrums with one of the first programs offered this spring: April's Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt.
Calvert, 30, said counselors will gather everyone at April 3 at the Odd Fellows Shelter in Alameda Park to begin the hunt. Two sessions will be offered: a 6:30 p.m. program for children 1 to 4 years old and an 8 p.m. program for children, 5 to 10 years old. Pre-registration is required.
“Counselors will read out clues to find the location of the eggs. Kids can turn in the eggs for prizes,” Calvert said. “There will also be a basket raffle and we hope to have the Easter Bunny there.”
That will be the first outdoor event of the season but not the last.
Calvert said the youth dek hockey leagues will get under way at about the same time at the Butler Township Dek Hockey Rink.
“There's different types of hockey: ice, roller, dek and floor,” he said.
“It's essentially hockey but you use a ball and you don't wear skates,” said Calvert of the dek variety. “You just run all the time.”
And that's the purpose of many of the programs offered by the department as the weather slowly warms, to get young feet running and young arms pumping preferably outside.
A lot of the activities are designed to “get the kids outdoors in the fresh air and moving,” Calvert said.
Other favorite program returning include the safe baby-sitting classes which will be taught at various locations in the county
The baby-sitting class is offered for youths, age 11 to 16, and covers prevention, responsibility, leadership and professionalism. Pre-registration is required and the first class will be offered April 4 in Adams Township.
The introduction to soccer program at Alameda Park which introduces 4- to 8-year-old players to the basics of the sport is also perennial favorite. A promotion for Spring Soccer Shots, scheduled May 2, focuses on character development.
The most popular program, in Calvert's estimation, is the Camp Alameda summer program that runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday every week of the summer.
“Every week has a different theme. We have sports week. We have woods week,” Calvert said.
Camp Alameda fills up quickly so he advises that people sign their children up as soon as possible. Themes planned this year, highlighted on the department's web site, include Local Hero Week and Getting Soaked Week.
Other activities include the possibility of starting swim teams again at the Alameda Pool, a concert series, a series of outdoor discussions on topics such as lightning bugs and birds of prey, and history buff Bill Mays' talk on the history of Alameda Park.
Helping ride herd on the rambunctious groups of children descending on the park for its various programs will be Calvert, an assistant counselor and six standard counselors.
Counselors are or will be CPR and first aid-certified and passed all their clearances and background checks.
“We go through a few days of training, 'Here's what to expect when confronted by an angry parent,” he said. “They're are going to face various challenges. We give them the tools they need.”
There also will be a series of movies shown on an outdoor, inflatable screen by the Pine Shelter.
Calvert said the movies haven't been selected yet but they will be classics that he and his contemporaries watched growing up.
“I grew up in this park, literally,” said Calvert, who took over as program manager in 2018. “I've been doing this stuff all my life.
“From my perspective, it is good to get the kids out there socializing and moving.”