In Summer 2011, Howard County Recreation & Parks expanded a new hybrid day camp called Extreme Recess: Sports & Adventure Camp. Aptly named, Extreme Recess aimed to take the best part of a kid’s day, pump it up with old-school style games, sport favorites and adventure activities, and make the fun last for a whole week. An array of activities were advertised, from basketball, kickball and capture the flag to archery, kayaking and fishing. Offered Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, programming that promised a camp packed with activity that would send children home happy and excited for the next day.
Launched as test program in summer 2010, the response to this innovative hybrid camp format was remarkable, with the two sessions offered filling rapidly. By mid-April, both sessions had filled with 24 campers apiece, and adjustments were made to scheduling, staffing, and permitting in order to expand the maximums and accommodate the high demand. By June, both sections had filled once again with 40 participants apiece. Amidst lower and delayed camp registration across the board in many other adventure, sports, and specialty camps, the immediate popularity of Extreme Recess was a testament to the community’s desire for a unique camp experience of this kind. In 2011, the program was marketed to the public, filling all four sessions offered (30 participants a session), including a new location in the southern part of the county.
A typical day at Extreme Recess consisted of full-group activities in the morning as a warm-up, group rotations for specialized activities such as fishing, archery, and kayaking, and large-group sporting events like kickball. Fittingly, there was also a “Recess” period of free play after lunch for children to pursue their own interests. Each day culminated with a trip to the pool to cool off and splash around in a less structured environment. Reality style games like “Minute to Win It” were also included on the schedule. Over the course of the week, campers were placed on teams, created team posters and t-shirts and competed in friendly team competitions on the last day of camp. This variety of structured, unstructured, large group, small group, and individual play allowed each child to find activities that resonated with his/her particular style and interests, in addition to promoting increased self-confidence and teamwork through team-building pursuits.
This innovative new program achieved many important goals in the fulfillment of community recreation needs and the advancement of the recreation field. First, Extreme Recess was able to provide a full-day, Monday-Friday camp option that catered to working parents. Not only could parents be assured their child was busy and well-cared-for during the day, but campers were able to participate in many specialized sports and adventure activities beyond the scope of a typical day care camp. Concurrently, Extreme Recess reached out to the 9-12 year-old age group which is sometimes under-programmed, specifically in regards to specialty camp experiences which also provide full-day care.
In addition to successfully balancing the logistics of age group and camp format, Extreme Recess provided an opportunity for participants to experience both adventure and sports activities in a unique combination format. The Sports & Adventure Services Division of Howard County Recreation & Parks has operated a vast array of sports, adventure, and nature camps for many years; Extreme Recess established a formula for success as a hybrid, avoiding mutual exclusivity of successful program areas.
The variety of activities in the camp required use of a variety of facilities and park resources. Three sessions of camp met at our new Meadowbrook Athletic Complex (opened 2010), the other session met at the newly opened North Laurel Community Center (opened June 2011). Giving both participants and parents the opportunity to explore the new indoor facilities and learn about the programs offered at those locations. Outdoor sports and adventure activities also made use of ball fields at Meadowbrook Park, Centennial Lake for fishing, grassy areas at the park for archery, and the swimming pool at the Roger Carter Recreation Center. Not only did this camp incorporate a variety of new and old favorite activities, but provided a glimpse into the variety of new and old favorite recreation and park resources available to the community, as well.
The Howard County Recreation & Parks Outdoor Recreation team is deserving of the LERN Programming Award for Extreme Recess: Sports & Adventure Camp because of the program’s unique hybrid format, high demand during a challenging economy, incorporation of a variety of activities and formats, and utilization of multiple recreation and park facility resources.
Extreme Recess proved to meet the needs of the community, and has simultaneously advanced the field of recreation and parks by successfully implementing a hybrid format. Hybrid camps have limitless possibilities for combining seemingly distinct activity areas to create a well-rounded and diverse camp experience without dissipating the quality of specialized activities.
Testimonial from pleased parent of an Extreme Recess participant:
“Our overall experience was great. He enjoyed the activities & made some friends. The staff seemed like really nice people that truly enjoyed being with the kids. When I picked him up he could not wait to tell me everything they did.” -Kim Brickner
Photo's attached to Supporting Documentation.