Pilot story and photos
by Lynn Davis
Children who have been attending the Brookings Summer Recreation Program, along with their parents, spent Friday, Aug. 15, at Azalea Park enjoying food and festivities during an end of season celebration.
In addition to a picnic lunch, the crowd was treated to a dance recital, play, gunny sack races, tug-o-war, relay races, parachute games, and pie and watermelon eating contests.
The event served as a culmination of the summer-long program that focused on entertaining youngsters with an educational twist.
Curriculum was sponsored, again this year, by the city of Brookings, and organized by Pam Callaway and assistants Vanessa Keys and Carrie Hargrove.
"Throughout the summer, between 125 to 150 kids came through the program," Keys said.
The sessions, which began June 4 and continued through Aug. 15, were held in four classrooms at Azalea Middle School.
"I think it did really well, and the kids enjoyed it," Keys said. "If I had a wish list, more kids would come, and there would be a larger variety of classes."
She mentioned organizers are always looking for instructors who can bring new experiences to the program.
Nine-year-old Troi Bartreau said she had a great time participating in the program.
"It gave me something to do," she said, and added that her favorite activities included Horst Wolf's watercolor class, face painting, and beading.
Her father, Ellis Bartreau, said the family just moved here from Salem, and having Troi take part in the program enabled her to not only keep busy during the summer but it also provided a way to make new friends heading into her first school year in Brookings.
Keys explained, "We had the game room open with activities like fooseball and Legos. We did so many things over the summer. The kids loved the tie dying and spin art, and they also really enjoyed creating make-and-take aquariums."
The cost was $1 per child, per program, and $1.25 for those children coming from out of the area. Scholarships of up to $30 per child were available to those in need.
"It helped out a lot of kids," Keys said. "When they're coming twice a week, all summer, it adds up.
"We had lots of help from the parents and support from the community.
"The staff and kids, were so appreciative of the city of Brookings for sponsoring the program. Without them it wouldn't have been possible," Keys explained.
Mother of two Chris Hudson attended Friday's event with her husband John. The couple watched as their children enjoyed the day's activities, and cheered for their 8-year-old daughter, Amanda, as she danced on stage. John sat waiting with a bouquet of pink roses in hand, as he does during every performance his daughter is involved in.
"It was an amazing program," Chris said. "It offered the kids something creative to do over the summer."
Dance instructor Christine Amato opened the recital with her littlest pupils, ages 5 to 9, presenting a creative movement interpretation of "Lilac Fairies," from the ballet, "Sleeping Beauty." Next, dressed as Hawaiian hula dancers, they performed "Tikki Room."
"The marketing department of Chetco Federal Credit Union was great," Amato said. "They generously provided the leis and Hawaiian decorations for the recital."
Five-year-old Audrey Allen's mother, Chrissy, said she got a kick out of watching "Tikki Room." "It was so cute. It was really, really entertaining."
"It was very, very fun," added Audrey. "I liked it."
Annie Cowan, 13, followed the youngsters' performance, with her solo rendition, and lyrical dance, titled "Stop Right There" by Christian musicians Zoe Girls.
The 10-14 age group completed the recital with a combination ballet, jazz and modern dance number to the tune of "We're Dancing," a progression from the "Center Stage" soundtrack.
The instructor said she was impressed with the effort put forth by all of the girls.
"I don't believe any of them had ever performed before on stage," she said. "They only had four hours of my time, all together, and no rehearsal. For that length of time, I was really impressed with those girls."
Keys, whose 12 year-old daughter, Taylor, also performed, added, "As a mom, I was amazed at how much the girls learned."
Jordyn Keys, Vanessa's 7-year-old daughter, munched her way to first place in the pie eating contest. She competed in the 7-10 age group.
Professional make-up artist Debi Hendricks, together with her daughter, Brittany, and assistants Leona Cone, Dora Marquis, and Lessie Dissey, created theatrical drama on the faces of the dancers.
"They really went over and above for those girls," Amato said.
She believes the attention and fuss made over the girls will stay with them for a lifetime.
"Let them have this moment," she said. "When they're 80 years old, they can look at pictures of themselves on stage, and remember when."