October 22, 2021

Moravia summer recreation program extended for one year

Photo provided by Erica Heim

Gabriella Heim, 12, shows off the crawfish she caught during Moravia's six-week summer recreation program at Fillmore Glen State Park.

MORAVIA — A group of about 20 parents are creating a not-for-profit to help fund the Moravia summer recreation program after the town decided to continue the program for only one more year.

“The board raised the issue as a financial one, so with this organization we’d be able to get funding,” parent Erica Heim said. “It gives the community time to come together and help.”

Heim is part of the committee of parents who met recently to get the not-for-profit started and said they’ve already had businesses in the community reach out, including Lansing Bottle and Can Redemption, which plans a fundraiser.

“It’s a small town, it’s close-knit and I think if people had known sooner we would’ve had this support sooner,” Heim said. “The goal is to continue the program so we are not back in this same situation again next year or in future years.”

The organizers are still working through paperwork to set up the not-for-profit. They have not said whether the organization’s fundraising efforts will supplement all or some of the costs of the program.

The town board reversed its decision to end the program at a meeting on Dec. 19 and continue it for one more year after previously passing a resolution in early December to end its oversight of the program.

The school district had also discussed whether it should take over the program, but Schools Superintendent John Birmingham has recommended the district not do so.

Supervisor Terrance Baxter said the town chose to end the program because it had been paying more into the fund than other participating towns — Locke and Niles — for several years.

Baxter said every year the town would come up about $3,000 to $4,000 short in funds.

The six-week program at Fillmore Glen State Park is for children in the Moravia School District. The towns of Moravia, Lock and Niles paid the costs for local children. Parents of students from other towns had to pay about $210 per child. The cost to run the six-week program in 2018 was about $41,000 for about 200 kids, including swimming, field trips and educational opportunities.

A letter was sent to towns and villages stating that if they wanted to participate, they would need to write a letter of intent assuming responsibility for the cost of children participating from their community. Each municipality would also be in charge of having their own registration and setting their own registration fee, with forms being received by the town clerk by June 17.

Baxter could not be reached for further comment.

Heim has two children — Gabriella, 12, and Lily, 9 — who have participated in the program.

“I learned biology skills like how to catch a crawfish,” Gabriella said. “This camp really means a lot to us.”

Gabriella said she hopes to be a volunteer at the program this year, as she is too old to attend it now.

Her favorite memory was when she caught a crawfish and named it Big Joe.

“I was like, oh my god, this is the first time I touched a mini lobster,” she recalled. Her friend corrected her that it was in fact a crawfish.

Her sister Lily is excited to see her friends and play dodgeball.

“Every summer I’ve gone it was fun,” Lily said.

Courtney Copley said the program allows kids to make new friends. Her daughter Taylor has been in the program for the past few years.

My daughter says she wants to be a counselor for rec when she grows up because she looks up to the teenagers who are so vital to the program,” Copley said. “They are helping shape our kids and giving them something to look forward to.”