By Brad Pedersen| Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 7:15 p.m.
North Huntingdon and Irwin officials hope to help local children beat the summertime blues with a variety of camps.
This year, North Huntingdon's Department of Parks & Recreation plans to offer 19 camps, while Irwin officials expect to team with the Wilmerding YMCA to offer six weeks of programming.
Dan Miller, director of North Huntingdon Department of Parks & Recreation, said township officials are trying to offer something for everybody by providing camps covering a variety of interests, such as sports, theater, and science and technology.
The township plans to partner with several organizations to offer specialized camps, including UK Soccer Camps, the US Sports Institute and Rex Arts, Miller said.
“They bring the camps to us, run them with certified professionals, and we don't have to employ any additional staff,” Miller said. “We're offering quality programs with our camps, and we're also offering quality, and the more we can offer, the better it is for our residents.
“We're trying to play to the strengths of the community's characteristics by offering a large menu.”
This year marks the first time the township plans to offer science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM-based camps, Miller said.
Officials designed the STEM camps to emphasize concepts from the classroom, while creating a fun, informal atmosphere, Miller said.
“This has always been a sports-heavy community, but through working with the school district, there is a lot of education-based interests to tap into,” Miller said. “We wanted to reach outside the realm of sports.”
Irwin council struck a $5,500 deal with the Wilmerding YMCA to provide six weeks of programming in Irwin Park, with an emphasis on athletic activities, such as kickball, dek hockey, and basketball, for children between the ages of 5 and 14.
Scott Heasley, executive director of the YMCA in Wilmerding, which serves the Irwin area, said organization officials will meet with borough officials to examine the community's programming needs.
Programming could include science and arts components and begins June 17, Heasley said.
“I find that children, especially in summertime, need positive opportunities in the community,” Heasley told council last month. “Kids have energy, so you either give them a positive outlet or, unfortunately, they use negative outlets.”
Irwin residents likely would be the primary participants, he said, but the program would be open to any children.
“We're looking forward to it,” Heasley said. “That's what the Y is about — to try to partner and meet needs in the community.”
Staff writer Rossilynne Skena contributed to this report.
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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