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Kids Kamp - Lincoln kids love it

One in a series of articles on Lincoln, its parks and its people
By: Jim Datzman
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Fall Into Fun Kids Kamp

Sessions available from Nov. 20 to Nov. 22

Winter Kids Kamp

Sessions available from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5

Info: LINCOLNREC.NET or 434-3220

A warm smile crosses her face as she is asked to describe the Kids Kamp program.  The smile belongs to Stephanie Lombardi, a program coordinator for the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department.

Stephanie serves as a classic example of “local girl makes good.” She was born and raised in Lincoln and attended Lincoln High School.  Stephanie’s parents (Wink and Sherry Thixton) each served on the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Committee for more than half a decade.  Stephanie began her service with the city of Lincoln in 2000 as a day camp leader in an earlier version of the Kids Kamp program.  She is married to city of Lincoln Fire Captain Scott Lombardi and they have two sons, Braeden (age 10) and Cole (age 8).

Stephanie takes pride in recognizing that the program she administers enjoys an immense popularity amongst kids in the 5 to 12 age group.  The programs that were once held at McBean Park are now held at the Twelve Bridges and Foskett Ranch Elementary schools, thanks to the cooperation demonstrated between the city and our school district via a joint-use agreement.  The programs are scheduled quarterly in the fall, winter, spring and summer seasons. 

Average attendance before has been about 50 kids, but this summer, the program increased to an average of 108 enrollments per week, peaking at 145 participants.

The summer program operates for 10 weeks between early June and mid-August from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with extended-care options available starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. to meet the needs of families in our community.  The program description reads as follows:

“Our camp counselors are dedicated to providing a safe and fun environment for children to interact, meet new friends and participate in exciting camp activities. Campers will spend their day playing high-energy activities, creating art masterpieces, going on crazy adventures and so much more.  Join us for an exciting week of camp games, sports, a field trip and more.  Please bring a sack lunch, one snack, and water to camp daily.  Come join the fun.” 

Although Stephanie is responsible for administering the camp programs, she has part-time staff hired to provide constant on-site supervision. 

An additional community benefit involves the use of youth volunteers recruited and selected to assist the leaders in the daily operation of camp activities and to help create unforgettable camp memories for the youth of our community. 

The volunteers must be 13 years or older.  Stephanie screens the applicants.  Each youth volunteer must attend a training orientation.  Youth volunteers are eligible to receive community-service credits and a letter of recommendation if they complete the minimum of 150 hours during the 10-week program.  This summer, the program had 14 volunteers and 10 successfully completed the program.   

This summer, the 100-plus campers would come in and enjoy many activities during the “free play” period.  They were then divided into four groups by age and each group participated in program activities such as science, arts and crafts, high-energy activities, camp challenges, outdoor demonstrations provided by the Heritage Wildlife Foundation, hula demonstrations, drama, cooking and sewing, along with a weekly field trip.  

One of the exciting aspects of this program rests with staff’s ability to bring in various programs and demonstrations to develop practical learning skills. 

One of the campers’ favorite demonstrations occurred when Quick Quack Car Wash brought out their mascot (Quackers) to hand out fun goodies while staff taught the campers how to properly wash cars.

When transportation was recently needed to transport campers from Twelve Bridges School to McBean Park for swim days each Monday, the Walmart stores in Lincoln and Roseville graciously donated a total of $2,000 to cover most of the transportation costs. 

The program even included a “Grease Jr.” performance written by Kids Kamp leader Sarah Lopez.  The weekly club run by Sarah and Devin Lewis conducted a “Kids Kamp’s Got Talent Show on Friday Night,” giving the campers a chance to demonstrate their talents to their peers.  Campers practiced for an hour each week and performed at the inaugural “Kids Kamp’s Got Talent Show” on the last day of camp in front of their peers, with parents in attendance. 

Several years ago, the city faced a severe budget shortfall.  In order to maintain a Parks and Recreation program, the small staff (four full- time employees at present) agreed to create a program charge for all activities that would cover the cost to provide each program. 

Our Parks and Recreation Committee knows of no other municipal program operated in such a cost-efficient manner.  The department budget also includes an annual donation in excess of $50,000 from the United Auburn Indian Tribe for youth activities that was part of the initial agreement when Thunder Valley Casino was established.   

Each year, the Parks and Recreation Department hosts the annual Mayor’s Cup Golf Tournament (this year it will be at the Turkey Creek Golf Club on Friday, Oct. 6).  Proceeds from the golf tournament are used to provide scholarships to insure that all youths have an opportunity to participate in Kids Kamp and other youth programs.

If your son or daughter would like to spend some time roller skating, visiting Top Golf, attending a movie, enjoying Lazer Tag, attending a Rivercats Baseball game, visiting a bowling establishment, and other entertaining activities, they can do so by enrolling in a session of Kids Kamp. 

Doug Brown, supervisor for the Park and Recreation Department, said that “the growth and success of the Kids Kamp is directly attributable to Stephanie’s passion for the program.” 

Additional information regarding the Kids Kamp program is available via the Lincoln Parks and Recreation website at  LINCOLNREC.NET or by calling 434-3220. 

At the end of each Kids Kamp session, the young participants are asked to evaluate the program.  Reading those evaluations provides Stephanie with the satisfaction that results in that smile on her face.  Well done, Stephanie.

 

Jim Datzman is a member of the city of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Committee.