Summer Rec Program Heats Up

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Parents searching for a well supervised but fun program for their children need look no further than the Town Youth Summer Recreation Program.

Since the inception of the program in 1988, countless Rim country youth have flocked to the program looking for ways to wile away the dog days of summer.

Payson Elementary School teacher and former Longhorn baseball coach Bruce Haught was one of the founders of the program, along with Windy Joe and Bob Arnold.

In its early years, the program was sponsored by the Payson School District, Rim Country Guidance Center and the Town of Payson.

Today, the Town Parks and Recreation Department oversees the entire program.

Joe and Arnold moved out of state several years ago but Haught remains with the program alongside PHS teacher/coach Chuck Hardt who joined in 1994. Together, the two supervise and provide activities for the dozens of youngsters who attend the program each day.

The activities vary, but the most popular this summer has been wiffle ball games played on the Rim Country Middle School gym floor. Other offerings include foosball, pool, bumper pool, table tennis, board games and more.

The program once featured an air hockey game but the table wore out a couple of years ago and funds haven't been available to replace it. Both Haught and Hardt say if there is anyone in the community who would like to donate an air hockey game it would be welcomed. Also, the program currently is in need of more pool cues.

The program is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays until July 27, except for the July 4 holiday. All activities are conducted inside the RCMS gymnasium or on the adjacent athletic field.

Youngsters 10 years of age through high school are welcome to participate in the program free of charge. The program is not intended to be a baby-sitting service, but rather a place youngsters can gather to participate in wholesome activities.

The participants "must be able to entertain themselves by getting involved in what's going on," Haught said.

If participants fail to obey the established rules, they will be excused from the gym, Hardt said.

With two seasoned teachers and coaches on hand to supervise, proper behavior has not been a problem. This year, Hardt and Haught opted for a ban on food and drinks in the gym due to the mess and garbage created in past years.

Call the Parks and Recreation Department at 474-5242, ext. 7 for more information.

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