By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND - Break out the baseball bats, pull out the bikes, and put on some sunscreen. Summer is just around the corner, but for many families this year will be different than last. That's because more people are staying at home because of our ailing economy and that's hurting the kids too. But Midland city leaders say they're ready for the kiddos with more camps and activities than ever.
They're warming up and getting ready for the summer.
"We do see a lot more parents saying, 'Yeah I can't afford to send my kid to camp this year, I can't afford to pay for these lessons and so on,'" Midland Parks and Recreation Superintendent, Ben Telesca, said.
That's why Midland Parks and Recreation is bringing on more summer programs than ever and many are free.
"For example our archery program is going to be free," Telesca said. "We're going to be offering free tennis lessons throughout the park system, we're going to be doing the fitness boot camp at Doug Russell Pool."
One of those new programs is a cheerleading camp. Alana, a senior cheerleader at Midland High decided to spend her summer creating a new opportunity for kids all across the city.
"I think it's good for lots of different people to get involved and it's always good to have lots of activities to be able to do and it will bring more people in," Midland High Senior Alana Collinsworth, said.
But more activities doesn't mean more funding. Parks and Recreation works with $6,000 each year to support the activities and when that runs dry, the department says they'll go anywhere they have to, to get the cash: independent donors, private organizations, and fundraisers.
"We're not going to drop anything," Telesca said. "We're going to continue to find ways to make it happen. It's what we owe the community. It's the reason why we're here."
And for the first time, the city established an endowment to help offset the cost of all the new programs this summer.
"We're trying to cultivate it as best we can now, so that over time the interest and dividends off that will supplement the needs we have," Telesca said.
One of the success stories is the boxing center. Augie Tapia is a 30-year veteran, who found enough donors to turn an old pool into a ring, and it's ready just in time for summer.
"Wow, what an outlet for kids in this community," Telesca said. "The social engagement that occurs there is tremendous and we want to continue that across the board, not just here, but all across the community."