ACRA’s Growing Wild Summer Camp took place from July 26th to 30th. Once again, the recreation coordinators teamed up with local SD69 teacher Josh Siemens to offer five days of fun. In a typical year, the camp would be packed with guest visits from a wide variety of non-profits, hobbyist groups, and local businesses, but this year, the decision was made to keep the class size small and not have guests as a precaution. In total, eighteen children between the ages of eight and thirteen participated in the camp. They had the opportunity to play field games, conduct science projects, do arts and crafts, and explore topics like astronomy, the role of pollinators, coding, and solar energy. Many of the children who attended had been part of the camp in previous years and were very excited to back.
Every summer, the recreation coordinators pick a day in July to visit BLT’s Storybook Village at the Qualicum Commons. This summer, the recreation coordinators brought all of the supplies needed to make coffee filter butterflies. Approximately a dozen children came by to make this classic craft and fly their pretty creations around the playground.
New this summer, ACRA organized an online, bingo-style activity challenge. This self-guided challenge was free to enter and took place from June 1st to July 31st.
It was divided into three age categories:
· Preschool: Ages 2 – 5
· Kids: Ages 6 – 12
· Youth: Ages 13 – 18
Each group was presented with an age-appropriate list of activities to complete. The challenge encouraged youth to stay active over the summer, try new activities, and explore local parks and trails.
Forty-six entries were received. Because the event had such generous support from Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf, Hamilton Hobby Farm, Billy Gruff’s Creamery at Old Country Market, and Dairy Queen, everyone who participated was given a prize.
Historically, the Youth World Music Camp has been organized by the Errington Hall, and ACRA’s role has been to support the camp by offering lunch-time games. Since it was last held in 2019, Errington Hall Music Coordinator Val Dare has retired. After receiving numerous requests from Errington families for its return, ACRA took on the role of organizing the camp. Val generously volunteered her time as an advisor. Peter Kuelja and Ramiah Smith instructed marimba, Recreation Coordinator Kristine Stephenson instructed puppetry, and Recreation Coordinator Tracy Cargo-White oversaw the mid-afternoon field games. The camp was divided into two age groups: eight to nine-year-olds and ten to twelve-year-olds. Both groups learned a few songs, built their own puppets and wrote short skits. Camp culminated in a final-day performance on the outdoor stage.
Beneath clear skies and sunshine, twenty-three walkers and six leaders kicked off the Sole Sisters walking season on September 15th at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.
Preregistration is required to attend this free program, and registration is done online on a weekly basis. The group size has been limited to twenty-five participants, plus leaders. Most weeks, the walks have been full with a waitlist.
Thus far, the ladies have visited Little Qualicum Falls, Englishman River Regional Park, and Big Qualicum Fish Hatchery. Throughout the fall, they will be exploring more trails in locations ranging from Nanoose to Bowser.
The first weekend of August, the Arrowsmith Agricultural Association held their annual Coombs Summer Fair. This year’s theme was the “Year of the Chicken,” but there was more than just chickens at the event! An assortment of live animals, displays of fair entries, tractors, and bouncy castles were also present.
The recreation coordinators enjoyed supporting this event as general volunteers. Recreation Coordinator Kristine Stephenson assisted with set up prior to the event, and Recreation Coordinator Tracy Cargo-White managed a bouncy castle on the Saturday of the event.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, ACRA has not been able to offer the Food Skills for Families Cooking Program. With Provincial Health and Safety Guidelines relaxing, it was anticipated that this program would return in mid-September, and seven keen participants had signed up to take it. Unfortunately, the program was cancelled because the facilitator was unable to instruct. In collaboration with the incredible Food Skills Team at the BC CDC, the recreation coordinators reached out to some other facilitators in the community, but sadly none were able to take on the role. For the time being, this program is on pause indefinitely.
The recreation coordinators attended many community meetings including:
· ACRA Team Meetings
· Facilitator Meetings
· Building Learning Together Coalition Meetings
· ACRA’s AGM
At ACRA’s AGM, the entire board decided to continue on as members in their current positions. The recreation coordinators are grateful for the continued support of ACRA’s exceptional board members and the stability they have always provided.
The recreation coordinators are responsible for maintaining the ACRA website and events calendar, Facebook page, and Instagram account as well as promotion for programs. The recreation coordinators receive and reply to phone calls and emails regularly and manage all of the registration for programs independently.
The recreation coordinators also regularly check for updates to BC’s Covid-19 Health and Safety Guidelines so that they can adapt programs as needed. With the new vaccine requirement coming out in September, the recreation coordinators spent many hours reading over the guidelines put out by the province, ViaSport, and WorkSafeBC to ensure that they understood when it would be necessary to check for vaccination status for upcoming fall programs.
ACRA continues to lend equipment and instruments to not-for-profit groups. The AAA borrowed all of ACRA’s tents for Coombs Fair weekend as some of the activities took place outdoors.
In September, the recreation coordinators submitted three grants to support the Coombs Community Picnic, a new Play Program for preschoolers and school-age children, and a weekly Youth Marimba Program. RDN grants make affordable recreation opportunities possible in Area F, and ACRA is grateful for the support it receives from the RDN.