Thursday, Dec 08, 2016
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Ottawa Hills recreation office expands programs

Ottawa Hills' recreation office has two new managers who have expanded and diversified its programs, starting with the summer schedule.

While some of the Summer Fun sports camps and classes the rechristened Office of Village Life is offering this year have been available in the past, "We tried to get as diversified as we could," said Sandy Brown, a program co-coordinator along with Shelly Jamieson.

New offerings among the more than 60 programs on the schedule include theater, chess, cooking, aerobics, and dog training. There are bridge groups for adults and "trash-can band" for kids - the latter inspired by the stage production Stomp, Ms. Brown said.

Elementary-school music teacher Michael Leeds came up with that idea, she said, and it proved popular: All space in the June 21-25 classes is full. Participants are to perform the music they learn during the village chicken barbecue in September.

But many of the other programs still have space available, and they're open to anyone, not just Ottawa Hills residents, Ms. Brown said.

The Green Bear Cub day camps, open to incoming grade-schoolers up to sixth grade, offer full-day and half-day sessions on a week-to-week basis, so parents can work day-camp sessions around other programs in which they enroll their children.

"From 9 to 3, a child is covered," Ms. Brown said.

Sports camps cover all sports offered at the varsity level at Ottawa Hills High School, including lacrosse, field hockey, and softball, which weren't offered before this year. All of the sports camps are taught by the Ottawa Hills coaches, Ms. Brown said.

Ms. Brown said she and Ms. Jamieson have volunteered in the village for many years, so it was natural for them to apply to take over the recreation programs when Bev Gottlieb, the part-time recreation director for 16 years, retired.

"We know the facilities, we know the coaches," Ms. Brown said.

But the adoption of the Office of Village Life name is indicative of how the programming has diversified beyond youth athletics, she said.

"We are serving the community by offering programming from youth to senior citizens, and from sports to drama," she said.

All of the programs require participation fees, with the highest, $150, being charged for week-long art and sculpture programs that are materials-intensive. While the program office is funded by the village budget, Ms. Brown said, the programs themselves are financially self-sufficient.

Except for tennis and yoga classes that stretch into early August, and a junior-high dance scheduled for Aug. 13, all of the programs wrap up by the end of July.

Ms. Brown said that's a concession to the reality that most of the facilities the Office of Village Life uses belong to the village schools, and the schools start needing those facilities for their fall sports programs and preparations for the new school year in early August.

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