Marion Recreation cancels summer programs

May 27, 2020

MARION — The coronavirus pandemic has led Jody Dickerson to one of the most difficult programming decisions he has ever made: cancelling all summer programs for 2020. 

Dickerson came before the Board of Selectmen to inform them of his choice at a May 26 meeting. He said that the requirements for programs (wear masks at all times, keep six feet of distance from each other, and do not hold any organized sports), make it too hard to hold a program.

He called it “probably the most difficult decision I have ever had to make.” But “the program we would have to offer is not a fun program for the kids,” if it includes wearing masks for eight hours on 90 degree days, he said.  

With the schools closed, Dickerson would also have no option for a rainy day. 

The director acknowledged that the department has a lot of kids working for it, so the decision will have wide-reaching implications, not just for the campers.

If the state regulations change, Dickerson may consider weekly programs as a last-minute opportunity. 

Selectman Randy Parker was sorry to hear about the restrictions, and asked about something like kayaking as a possible activity. However Dickerson said that kids often don’t know how to kayak, and must share a boat, which is not feasible now. 

The state requires that every participant in sports like tennis or basketball have their own ball, which would require the town to buy triple or quadruple the equipment it currently has. 

He floated the idea of “camp boxes,” which would come packed with activities for kids to do at home, though he acknowledged it would in no way replace the camp experience.