After much consideration, the Halfmoon Township Summer Park Program will not be offered in 2014. I can assure you that discontinuing such a long-standing program for the children of our community does not come without a degree of sadness, nor was the decision to support this recommendation taken lightly by members of the Park and Recreation Board.
In 2008, 203 children were registered for the program, with an average daily attendance of 98. Attendance numbers began to fall in 2009 and continued to fall in 2010. Between 2010 and 2011, the board held many meetings focused on potential improvements to the program in order to reverse, or at least halt, this trend. Some ideas that came out of the discussions were enhancements to arts and crafts activities, "theme weeks," visits from groups such as the "Birds of Prey" at Shaver's Creek, and field trips to area attractions. The most feasible ideas were implemented during the summer of 2011. Despite this effort to keep interest and attendance where it had been, attendance numbers continued to drop, with 137 registered and an average daily attendance of 55. Last summer we had 47 children registered, with a high daily attendance of 17 and a low daily attendance of 8.
At the end of the program in 2010, the longtime director informed the board she would not be returning in 2011. The search was on for a new program leader and advertising for the position began. Only two applicants responded. Based on their qualifications and areas of expertise, and with the hope that it would take the program in a new and exciting direction, the decision was made to hire both applicants. The program ran well, but the numbers did not improve. Both program leaders decided not to return in 2012. That being the case, the previous director agreed to return for 2012 and 2013, during which time the numbers kept falling. During the summer of 2013, the board was informed she would not be returning in 2014.
Combining the multi-year data showing such a dramatic decline in participation over the last several years with the difficulties of finding and keeping a new program director in 2011 and the news that yet another director would not be returning in 2014 showed a reality we could not dismiss. The board could only reach the unfortunate conclusion that this was the end of an era.
If you would like to discuss this or any other topic, I invite you to contact me at 814-404-3041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chairman, Park & Recreation Board