RARA gears up for fall with new recreation programs, events

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published August 13, 2013

ROCHESTER — The end of summer is near, which means registration has begun for the Rochester Avon Recreation Authority’s fall programs.

RARA’s Fall Program Guide, which features a new design this year, arrived in local mailboxes earlier this month.

“It’s a whole new brochure,” said RARA’s superintendent of recreation Dave Word. “It just seemed like it was a good time for a change. We got a new logo for RARA and thought that modifying the program guide (would be a good idea).”

Besides the updated look of the brochure, Word said RARA also added some new program offerings this fall. RARA has serviced Rochester and Rochester Hills since 1946, providing hundreds of recreation programs for children and adults in a variety of areas, including sports leagues, sports classes, pre-school classes, special events, dance, fitness and more.

For the first time, boys and girls in first grade through high school can sign up for the new Pistons Academy Youth Basketball program, which runs January through March.

“We’re actually going to be the first program outside of their Birmingham program to offer it,” Word said. “Last year, we had 900 kids in our youth basketball leagues, and this year, we could have, potentially, 2,000 kids participating in the Pistons Academy Youth Basketball League.”

The league offers a player scouting combine, a player draft, competitive games, coaches training, a rules night, an awards night and much more.

“It’s a partnership with the Detroit Pistons, so we’ll be running the program with them,” Word said. “The kids will get free tickets to Pistons games, and there is a player draft combine for all the kids to make the teams a little more fair. Then they’ll also be able to do an academy awards at the Palace to finish up their season,” Word explained.

Adults can sign up for the new six-week Boot Camp course or the new United States Specialty Sports Association Slow Pitch League, which were both added to the health and fitness offerings this fall.

The Boot Camp course, taught by instructor Maria Marino of Maria Marino’s Fitness Pros, incorporates strength and core training, cardio, plyometrics, body weight exercises, and speed and agility moves, allowing participants to burn between 400 and 800 calories per hour-long workout. Classes are held in the morning or night on Tuesdays or Thursdays, beginning in September and October.

“I know for a fact that she gets very, very good results. I’ve taken some of her classes, myself,” said Mary DiCaro, a recreation supervisor at RARA.

The USSSA Slow Pitch League softball program includes both competitive and recreation leagues for adults that run Monday-Thursday beginning Aug. 26 through the last week of October.

“USSSA seems to be growing in the area, and they offer some key features that I was looking for with online software for all the scheduling and standings, and it allows you to one-click email teams if there is a rainout or delay. … I thought it was key to making the program more successful,” Word said.

RARA will also hold a couple of new events, including a golf outing to benefit RARA’s SCAMP Camp, a Mom-2-Mom sale and a 5k Santa’s Chase Race.

The golf outing will be held Sept. 2 at Bald Mountain, and all proceeds will benefit SCAMP — a camp that works with children ages 5 and older and young adults up to 26 years old with special needs.

“Many of our SCAMP campers have Down syndrome or autism, cerebral palsy and developmental disabilities of any type. They do activities that would be typical of any camp program,” said DiCaro. “The program is quite costly for us, so fundraising is an all-year thing, but this golf outing is a new thing for us. … It really is a wonderful program that keeps on expanding, so we would like to be able to continue to offer that to as many people as possible.”

RARA’s first Mom-2-Mom sale will be held 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 6 in the gym and hallways inside the RARA building. The sale has room for approximately 60 people, and the cost to participate is $35.

The Santa’s Chase Race is a night run held Dec. 7. Word said everyone who comes out to run gets a Santa hat and green and red glow sticks.

“If you dress up in a Santa costume, you get to run free,” he added.

RARA will also continue to offer a variety of other programs this fall — including its youth dance programs, which Word said are always popular with the public.

“When we went to our new building, we went from 1,100 participants to 1,600,” he said. “A lot of the classes fill up with residents before we go out to the public, because you have to wait two weeks if you’re a nonresident to sign up. We have people waiting in line at 2 a.m. to register to get a spot.”

Registration for all youth and adult RARA programs began Monday for Rochester and Rochester Hills residents — with the exception of dance, which begins Aug. 24 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Stoney Creek High School, 575 E. Tienken, for new participants. Open registration for nonresidents begins Aug. 26, and nonresidents hoping to register for RARA’s dance programs can sign up beginning Sept. 9.

To register, visit the new RARA Office, 500 E. Second St., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; call (248) 656-8308; send a completed registration form with a form of payment to RARA, 500 E. Second St., Rochester, MI 48307; or visit www.rararegistration.org. For more information, visit www.rararecreation.org.