By Joel Hall
The week of Feb. 18, Clayton County school children will be able to enjoy camp activities during their winter break for less than half the original price. Thanks to a unanimous by the Clayton County Board of Commissioners.
On Tuesday, the board voted to reduce the price of Parks and Recreation's "Winter Escape" camp from $50 to $20 per child. Commissioners and camp organizers said they believe the price reduction will allow more students to participate in structured programs during their vacation time.
"It was important to the board members to reduce the price," said BOC Chairman Eldrin Bell. "We have a high number of mothers, here, who leave their homes to provide for their family. We have to take the responsibility as a county to make sure that their children have a safe haven."
"One of the concerns that citizens have raised is that a lot of the kids who want to participate in recreation programs can't, because its too expensive," said Commissioner Wole Ralph. Reducing the price of the camp will give children, "not only something to do, but something that is constructive and will make them into better citizens."
The winter-break camp will take place at four different locations from Monday to Friday next week. Those locations will be the Carl Rhodenizer, Virginia Gray, and Jim Huie recreation centers, as well as the Clayton County Therapeutic Recreation Center, located on 675 Forest Parkway in Forest Park.
The Rhodenizer, Gray, and Huie centers will accept 50 children each, while the Therapeutic Recreation Center will accept 15 children. Throughout the week, children aged five to 14 will be engaged in various physical, artistic, and cultural activities from the hours of 7 a.m., to 6 p.m.
Recreations Superintendent Tori Strawter said the week's activities will include field trips to the Fernbank Museum and the Clayton County 4-H camp in Hampton, informational programs on how food is processed and how to manage money, and craft projects focusing on different cultures.
On Friday, all of the students in the camp will be bused to the Jim Huie Recreation Center for a foam boat race and other activities at the Steve Lundquist Aquatic Center. The camp will culminate with an "American Idol" style talent show.
"These camps are necessary because we try to get away from the whole baby-sitting concept," said Strawter. "Kids are more apt to learn in a situation where they see it as fun [so] we try to do a well-rounded recreational experience that is a lot more holistic."
Parks and Recreation Director Detrick Stanford said that when the county first attempted to do a vacation camp for Clayton County children in the spring, the participation was about 55 percent. While the official registration deadline has passed, Stanford said the deadline will most likely extend to Friday, until the camps can reach their capacity.
"When the kids are out of school, there are often not a lot of structured programs for them," said Stanford. During the camp, "they will have professional and trained supervisors that will guide their activities for the week."
For more information, call Parks and Recreation at (770) 477-3766.