Parks and Recreation Department honored at statewide conference
February 19, 2014
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township’s Parks and Recreation Department was recognized at the Feb. 10 township board meeting for recently receiving a statewide award.
The Michigan Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) honored the department’s Day Camp Evaluation and Accountability Tool Kit program with an Innovative Programming Best Services Award during a Jan. 23 conference in Traverse City. The award is more of a general kudos to the entire department for continuing to be a cut above the rest.
“It is an award we have won in the past, which makes it even harder to do again,” said Director Linda Walter. “We have a very firm structure that guides the young people that teach at our day camps. That structure is something that we’ve been asked to explain several times, so we did it during the session and explained other aspects of the program at the conference. (It’s) really gratifying as professionals.”
Macomb Township Parks and Recreation Director Sal DiCaro, who is also part of the MRPA Awards Committee, cited the department’s selective hiring, intensive training, comprehensive employee handbook, weekly lesson plans that program in half-hour increments, weekly evaluations that focus on program priorities (attendance, record-keeping, supervision on field trips), and weekly certificates.
“Clinton Township Parks and Recreation Department runs 10-14 day camps each summer,” DiCaro said. “Like many parks and recreation departments that run day camps, the camp staff is primarily college and high school age. They work independently of supervisors. This makes it challenging to maintain consistent, quality programming.
“But what’s done here in Clinton Township, which raises their programming to the level of best practices in our profession, is they have developed a comprehensive series of management tools and practices that help ensure quality programming and enthusiastic, consistent presentation throughout the whole program.”
DiCaro congratulated the department and said the township should be proud for what they have, and he thanked the board for having the patience and foresight to keep things going and value what parks and recreation brings to a community.
And, as Walter noted, it’s not easy to maintain a high level of success.
Walted discussed the requiring of plans, sustaining a high quality of content and how to focus everyone to keep them on track. She described it as “anxiety filled,” as if everyone got report cards for performance.
“The whole idea is having young people out at 14 different areas with large amounts of young children,” Walter said. “We want programming to be specific, where every kid is going to get something more out of the day camp experience than they did the day before.
“(We are) thrilled with the award and with the recognition. It represents public and private recreational organizations in the state of Michigan.”