By KAITLYN NAPLES
Even though it may feel like it is light-years away, summer will be here in just a few months and students will be out of school and ready to head off to summer camp. Before spaces fill up, residents should check out the new programs Bristol’s Parks and Recreation Department has to offer this summer.
The department will be kicking off its brand new Counselors in Training (CIT) program, which is intended for teenagers ages 14 to 17 who are ultimately in interested becoming a summer camp counselor when they are old enough to work.
“We don’t have a lot to offer to teenagers who are too old to go to summer camp but too young to work,” said Joshua Medeiros, recreation coordinator for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “It’s going to be a really nice way for them to get involved in our programs.”
Not only will the CIT program allow for teens to get out of the house this summer and participate in a variety of activities, but they will also learn leadership skills, team building, and begin to build their resume for future jobs and college.
“It is a really positive experience,” Medeiros said, adding that summer camps across the state offer this kind of program and it has been well received by both the teens and parents or guardians.
After the CITs work their way through the program and are eventually eligible to be camp counselors, Medeiros said they will be the first people the city looks at for hiring summer counselors before other individuals who haven’t been CITs. The CITs will be paired with camp counselors for the summer and help plan activities and work with the campers, run special events, assist counselors on field trips and attend leadership workshops each week.
He said he is hoping to bring on board 15 teens for this summer’s first Counselor in Training program, where they will be split between the regular summer camp offered at Stafford School, which is offered to ages 6- to 12-years-old, and the newly added preschool summer camp that will be offered at Mountain View School.
Medeiros said the new preschool camp, called Little Explorers, will be offered to children ages 3- to 5-years-old and will help “introduce younger children to summer camp,” and provide a good environment for them filled with music, sports, arts and crafts, entertainment, games and more. Medeiros said like the CIT program catering to teens, the preschool summer camp will cater to an age bracket Bristol’s summer camps weren’t reaching before. Medeiros said he sent out a survey to parents and received positive feedback about the preschool summer camp and is hoping to admit about 40 children for the program this summer.
The regular summer camp, he said, typically fills up with about 200 children each year. However, he said with the CIT program he hopes to admit much more because there will be extra bodies to work with the campers.
The individuals chosen for the CIT program will also participate in a three-day training session before camp begins where they will receive their CPR and First-Aid certificate, along with becoming familiar with on how camp works.
Medeiros said he would encourage teens to apply because the program provides different activities for them to be a part of each day throughout the summer.
“It makes the summer fly by so much faster and is a great opportunity for that age group,” he said, adding that the CIT program allows for teens to get out of the house and be productive throughout the summer if they are not able to work yet due to their age. He also said he will be looking for individuals to apply who are enthusiastic, responsible, mature young adults who are excited about getting involved this summer and are out-going.
In addition to the CIT program and the preschool summer camp, Bristol Parks and Recreation also will be offering a Teen Adventure camp this summer that will be available to ages 12- to 15-years-old and be offered three days per week for five weeks in July. This summer camp, Medeiros said, is for teens who are interested in summer camp but can’t commit to the full seven-week session. The Teen Adventure camp will take teens on field trips during the five weeks to places around the state, like Quassy Amusement Park or tubing down the Farmington River. There will be a different theme each week for this summer camp and will provide the opportunity to “expose Bristol kids to other locations they may have never seen before,” Medeiros said.
The regular summer camp at Stafford School and preschool camp at Mountain View School will begin on June 30 and last for seven weeks. The preschool camp will have a split day, with the morning running from 9 a.m. to noon, and then the afternoon portion running from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. CITs only will be working with the Stafford School and Mountain View School camps for the summer.
Those interested in the CIT program should begin applying on March 3, and can find the application on the Bristol Parks and Recreation website at www.Bristolrec.com. The deadline for CIT applications is May 1 and once the department begins receiving applications it will begin notifying individuals to come in for interviews. Applicants should also provide a reference letter from a teacher, coach, principal, etc.
For summer campers, registration day is May 27 and parents can also find the necessary forms and information on www.Bristolrec.com or can visit the department’s office at Bristol City Hall, 111 North Main St., on the second floor. Anyone with further questions can contact the department at (860)584-6160.