A stream stomp and mud slide lure kids to recreation program
MONTGOMERY – In the small town of Montgomery, during the summer children are thoroughly engaged every week, every morning, Monday through Thursday from nine to 12:15 at Montgomery’s summer recreation program, Summer Alive. Located at Montgomery Borough Park, this free program is now in its fourth year. Its mission is to provide nutritious food combined with structured activities to promote healthy living. It is a community owned program that continues to develop a positive image for children and build personal commitments to their community.
Starting on day one, June 12, free music and art lessons were offered along with home made food for breakfast and lunch prepared by Loie Nichole Grove, a chef and bartender at Riverside Camping and Lounge.
A detailed schedule is posted for each day on their Facebook page. Every Monday is crafts and nature art, bingo and tacos for Tuesday, tissue paper art and ice cream on Wednesdays and Thursdays are devoted to theater crafts and pop-up play.
Program planning and development started back in March and Summer Alive is supported through charitable trust grants, sponsorships and in-kind donations. Two thousand dollars was awarded to them by Lycoming County commissioners to be spent on life skills.
On Wednesday, June 21, representatives from the Clean Water Institute at Lycoming College and Carey Entz-Rine, a watershed specialist from the Lycoming County Conservation District, held a “stream stomp” at nearby Black Hole Creek where students learned how to identify pollution tolerants. Children were excited to get into the water and explore what lay beneath the rocks and learn about the fish living in the stream. They searched and were able to identify mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies by matching their findings from a chart. Nets were used to capture living organisms, larva and nymphs that will soon become flying insects that live on the water. “These things cannot live in polluted streams,” Entz said to 57 children divided into 4 groups throughout the morning. Some held up their findings for all to see, while others were skeptical about holding a crawling, moving “slippery critter.” Others were delighted to find whatever they could, not minding the touch. Tanner Christian, age 8, said he was “super happy” to hold a dobson fly and learn about safe nature.
“The Black Hole Creek is looking good,” said Entz-Rine. Paige Kline, a biology major at Lycoming College said, “It is cool to see kids light up as they see the different fish and living organisms.” They discussed stream pollution, sewers, chemicals, litter and eroded dirt with the children. On July 19 the children will be exploring the Susquehanna River.
On Thursday, June 29, the children celebrated International Mud Day, made mosaics and peanut stew. Several photos of the day can be seen on the Summer Alive Facebook page.
A “Bookworm, Shutterbugs and Storytellers Club” has been established and organized by board president, Barb Jarmoska. Tina Tickle from Tickle’s Music Store in Montgomery and a program staff member, schedules a music and art activity every day. She said that so far over 100 kids, ages 5 to 15, have registered this year in Summer Alive. “It is not based on income or genealogy,” she noted.
“We’ve got so many great things for the teenagers this year. Fine art instruction and drawing with commercial art mediums everyday and a 45 minute music lesson each day,” explained Tickle.
LuAnn Potter of Muncy, also a board member and certified teacher, is executive director and has organized several outdoor activities that include outdoor sports, vegetable gardening, identifying birds and wildflowers, combined with interactive play and accented teamwork. “All groups and individuals are welcome to come,” said Potter. Volunteers are always needed to help with the activities and to serve the food.
A hot breakfast and lunch are prepared daily and served by the children on a rotation basis inside the pavillion at the park. “The Sanguedolce family has been extremely generous,” said Jarmoska. They have provided the cook, a certified kitchen, participated in menu planning, and provided funding for food.
The bookmobile comes every other Thursday, and Officer Wertz from the Montgomery Police department visited the children during the second week of June. “The kids have a sense of ownership here. They want to help.”
Amanda Fox has been hired as site supervisor. “I see kids flourishing in this program,” she added.
Rose Andrews who is a volunteer said this is a wonderful program. “You will be rewarded with smiles, sequels of delight and hugs. You will be rewarded with seeing joyful spirits having fun and experiencing new adventures. I particularly liked the wonder of the Ah Ha moments. Great fun for everyone.”
The board acknowledged the Borough of Montgomery for allowing use of the park for the 8 week program which ends August 3. The borough provided paint, labor and power wash cleaning to give the park building a new facelift.
There is a wish list for stainless steel silverware, art supplies, paper, pens, pencils and markers. An outdoor kitchen is in progress and supplies for this also will be needed. Ten small digital cameras with neck straps were purchased through a grant with the Coffehouse Project and more are in demand. A goal for next year is to raise enough money for a tree house.
To reach the program, volunteer, or make donations for Summer Alive, call 570-546-7769.