My Summer Recap – By Jacquelyn Tyre-Perry

Camp Leaders and Aides sit in for a staff training at the beginning of summer

Camp Leaders and Aides sit in for a staff training at the beginning of summer

Manassas Park Parks and Recreations School Age Recreation Specialist Jacquelyn-Tyre PerryWhile I am extremely glad the summer heat is almost over, it’s also very bittersweet for me to see the summer end. With another successful year of summer camps under our belts here at the Community Center, I can’t help but reflect on some of this summer’s highlights.

We always ramp up for summer with an employee training week. We review uniforms, CPR procedures, employee expectations, and customer service – just to name a few items we discussed. This year, the Recreation Services team revamped the employee training to include more hands-on and active learning opportunities, as well as more scenario-based training. This new approach was well received by new and old staff, and the consensus was that everyone felt prepared and ready for their jobs this summer.  We ended our employee training week with a potluck to allow staff to get to know each other, and it was a hit!

Campers investigate the scene of the crime searching for blood, hair, fingerprints, and more

Campers investigate the scene of the crime searching for blood, hair, fingerprints, and more

The following week, our Summer Camps finally kicked off, and everyone on our staff was ready. There were several unique camps, but Forensic Files was definitely an all-around favorite! During this week long camp, the kids worked on solving a crime by lifting fingerprints, collecting hair and dust samples, studying particles under a microscope, and interviewing their suspects.

To everyone’s surprise, I was the culprit who ransacked the older kid’s classroom leaving behind a string of lunchboxes and a broken flower pot as clues. My ransacking came to a halt when I found cookies in the younger kid’s classroom. I left cookie crumbs and clues for the kids and staff to figure out “whodunit.” Both classes did a fantastic job acting as Special Agents for the week by putting their investigative skills to work solving the crime—and they had a blast too!

This summer, we also had a lot of new employees, who reported they had an amazing time working here. They loved interacting with the kids, doing the crafts and activities alongside them, and making new friends with other staff. Thankfully, we will be welcoming them all back next summer…if they’ll have us!

Returning this fall is Fall Family Fun Night where families can roast marshmallows, take hayrides, play games, and more

Returning this fall is Fall Family Fun Night where families can roast marshmallows, take hayrides, play games, and more

Right now, we are gearing up for fall at the Community Center so be sure to check out the newly released Manassas Park Community Center Fall Mosaic! We’re busy preparing our Extended Care program for the new school year. We are bringing back our popular fall Special Events and are hiring more Recreation Services staff. So, even though the summer is ending, the fun isn’t. We truly appreciate and thank all those who helped to make this summer so memorable and successful.

Jacquelyn Tyre-Perry is the Recreation Specialist for School Aged Programs for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703.335.8872 x3928 or via email at J.Tyre-Perry@ManassasParkVA.gov.

Posted in Programs, School Aged | Leave a comment

Kids Triathlon Wrap Up! – By Maria Bosack

A handful of participants from this year's kids triathlon

A handful of participants from this year’s kids triathlon

Maria Bosack, writing/content specialist for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and RecreationManassas Park Community Center, Costello Park. It’s early, about 8:15 am on Saturday, on August 13, 2016 and, according to the WeatherBug app, the outside temperature is already a sticky 88 degrees, but it truly feels like 100 degrees! This morning is the Manassas Park Kids Triathlon where kids will compete in swimming, biking, and running. This year a record 45 kids signed up for the triathlon – a huge increase over last year’s 17. The participants are separated into two groups: ages 8 and 9 and ages 10-12. The triathlon begins in the pool where each swimmer will swim laps, then they’ll transition to cycling, and each child will finish the triathlon by running across the finish line.

Recreation Services Supervisor, Tony Thomas, energizes this year's kids triathlon participants

Recreation Services Supervisor, Tony Thomas, energizes this year’s kids triathlon participants

Tony Thomas, Recreation Services Supervisor, smiled as he set the stage for the participants. “Go out there and have fun,” he said, “We are so happy to see such a great turnout. I know it is hot out there — just do your best.”

kids triathlon 2016 swimming

Several participants had never participated in a triathlon and were unsure what to expect. Nine-year-old Ryan Minogue was a first time participant. “It’s my goal to try new things,” he said, “I am going to push myself to see how fast I can go as I try to pace myself.” His dad had been helping him train by taking Ryan on bike hikes near their home in Springfield, and the family ran together during a recent trip to North Carolina. Ryan says he loves sports and plays baseball and is a brown belt in karate.

Nine-year-old Samara Mayland also was a first-timer to the triathlon and admitted she was a little nervous. “I love all of these sports, but my favorite, by far, is swimming,” she said. “I’m also on the running club at school,” she pointed out. Her family was there to cheer her on and knew their participant was a little anxious before the race, so they reminded her of all the activities she does and how proud they are of her. “Yes, this one keeps us busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” her mom, Melissa, added.

Maddy Budd, 2016 MPCC Kids Triathlon participant

Maggie Budd, 2016 MPCC Kids Triathlon participant

Maggie Budd, a nine-year-old from Arlington, had already participated in another triathlon this summer. Maggie’s mom said, “Maggie never asked what her time or where she finished in relation to the other participants in the race, so I thought she could try another one.” Maggie says she just loves playing sports and is on her school’s running club. She also plays field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. She admitted, “My whole family loves sports and fitness is a big part of my life.”

Kohana Henry, 2016 MPCC Kids Triathlon participant

Kohana Henry, 2016 MPCC Kids Triathlon participant

This was also the second triathlon for Kohana Henry from Prince William County. “In school, I like computers, but I love to ride my bike so I asked my mom to let me ride my bike super-fast in this year’s triathlon,” she said. Her mom, Chizu, added, “I love watching the kids as they try their best. This year, I noticed so many smiles. Despite the heat, the kids were having a great time.”

Jonathan Buchholz (left) and Inigo Diz (right) get ready to finish the running portion of the kids triathlon

Jonathan Buchholz (left) and Inigo Diz (right) get ready to finish the running portion of the kids triathlon

Jonathan Buchholz, an eleven-year-old from Fall Church, said he heard about the triathlon and wanted to compete with his friend, Inigo Diz, who finished the race in first and second place respectively. “We like sports and we love to compete,” he said. Inigo’s mom, Ingrid, added, “The staff was very helpful. We realize this triathlon is pretty new and expected the weather was going to be super-hot, so we are glad it was held early in the day.”

The heat sizzled while parents and friends cheered as the participants swam, biked, and ran their way to the finish line. Within an hour, all of the participants had crossed the finish line.

Samara Mayland, 2016 MPCC Kids Triathlon participant, gets ready to cross the finish line

Samara Mayland, 2016 MPCC Kids Triathlon participant, gets ready to cross the finish line

Samara Mayland was happy she finished the race. “At one point, I was walking and thought I might not get to the finish line, but I did,” she beamed, “It was hard, but I made it!” With her brother and family watching and cheering, she smiled as she ran across the finish line.

Jerry Betz, 2016 MPCC Kids Triathlon participant

Jerry Betts, 2016 MPCC Kids Triathlon participant

Jerry Betts, a ten-year-old from Woodbridge, said he participated in the triathlon to help him train for other sports he plays. “I love playing football and I also love riding my bike. I can’t ride my bike at football but I could here and it was great!” He added, “I can’t wait to come back and do it again next year!”

Nine-year-old Andy Lemaster attends a traditional school in Prince William County and loves playing baseball. His mom, Claire, said, “I’ve done some of these triathlons myself and know firsthand how nervous, tired, and anxious these kids are.  Here, the attitude was so laidback and I think my son really had a great time. I saw a sign advertising this triathlon over by the Signal Bay Waterpark. I’m really glad we signed up.”

Maria Bosack is the Writer/Content Specialist for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703.335.8872 x0393 or via email at M.Bosack@ManassasParkVA.gov.

 

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Olympic Fever – By Sarah Barnett

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The Kids Triathlon, scheduled for 8/13/16, is a great way for young athletes to test their fitness!

Manassas Park Parks and Recreation Operations Manager Sarah BarnettI have always been a big fan of the Olympics.  I remember watching the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when I was a kid and begging my parents to put me in gymnastics. I was convinced I was going to be the next Shannon Miller.  Fast forward 4 years, and I was pumped to watch the Magnificent Seven compete in Atlanta.  I watched every minute of the Gymnastics coverage, even staying up until midnight to see the 1996 team win the gold medal!

My friends and I practiced our gymnastics’ skills for hours in my front yard.  However, by the 2000 Olympic Games, my passion had changed to running.  I watched hours of the Track and Field events.  At this point, I was convinced I was going to make it to the Olympics in the 1500m. Sadly, that didn’t happen; however, what did happen was my love for sports continued to shape me into the person that I am today.

As I have gotten older, I have found that my taste in Olympic sports has broadened to not only Track and Gymnastics, but also to Swimming and Diving.  This past week I have been glued to the TV at 8pm, to watch the Gymnastics and Swimming competitions. I have made watching the Olympics a family affair, and even allowed my young daughters to stay up past their bedtimes to watch.  My oldest daughter loves watching swimming while cheering on Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. Meanwhile, my youngest is already begging me to put her in Soccer AND Gymnastics!  I am not surprised that, just like me, my girls fell in love with sports by watching the Olympics.

Kids can be exposed to the sports they have fallen in love with watching the Olympics right here at the Manassas Park Community Center.  We have tons of swim lessons to help build efficient and effective swim skills for the future Michael Phelps.

We have Tumble Tots and Lil Rumblers & Tumblers for the future gymnast; Hot Shot Soccer and Strikers Soccer for the future soccer player; and Lil Dunkers and the Manassas Park Youth Basketball League for the future basketball star!  Karate will be in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and we have WCRB Dragon Tots and WCRB Youth Mixed Martial Arts for the aspiring karate master.  For those young at heart, we have an Adult Basketball League and Winter Volleyball League. We also offer adult classes in Karate (WCRB Adult MMA) and Swim Lessons.

Check out our latest program guide, the MOSAIC, that comes out on August 15th for a full list of all the amazing programs that we have to offer this fall!

Sarah Barnett is the Operations and Aquatics Manager for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703.335.8872 x3672 or via email at S.Barnett@ManassasParkVA.gov.

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Fall is a Special Time of Year – By Heather Henry

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Heather Henry is the Athletics Assistant for the Manassas Park Department of Parks and RecreationWith school right around the corner, what better time to go shopping than Tax Free Weekend this weekend August 5-7, 2016? Proven to be one of the busiest weekends, Tax Free Weekend includes clothing, shoes, school supplies, and emergency preparedness items making it well worth the trip!

As you go out for back-to-school shopping take a moment to investigate what fall specials and programs we have to offer here at the Manassas Park Community Center. Back by popular demand is our August Backpack Special that we’re running in partnership with the Fire Rescue Department! If you help us Stuff the Bus by bringing a backpack with a ream of paper and a pack of pencils, you can choose from 2 options:

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  1. 1 session of swim lessons (1 session = 8 lessons) for free

or

  1. Get 25% off one month of preschool

The limit for the special is 3 backpacks per family and you can even mix and match the options!

Since you will already be out and about and in a giving mood, why not circle August 15th on your calendar. Why is this date so important? This is when our new MOSAIC will be released which means registration for all fall programming will be open!  Check out Hot Shot Soccer for ages 3-5 where participants will learn soccer fundamentals. How about Volleyball Skills & Drills for ages 8-11? In this class, participants will learn the basics of volleyball and is open to any skill level. Is your teen looking to enhance their skills on the basketball court? Then you have to try Basketball Skills & Drills for ages 13-15. This class combines fitness conditioning and basketball drills.

For those of you looking for friendly competition, we have plenty of leagues where you can show off your skills! We offer Biddy Ball (ages 4-5), Youth basketball league (6-15), Co-ed 18 & up league, Over 35 basketball league, and our new Co-ed Volleyball league. I could go on and on about our fall programming!

So as you are shopping this weekend I ask you to keep in mind the opportunities we have to offer here at the Manassas Park Community Center. Save some money while helping out a great cause! Then come back on the 15th to register for athletics programs and start creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Heather Henry is the Athletics Assistant for the Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703.335.8872 or via email at h.henry@manassasparkva.gov. Check out her work on the Biddy Ball website and stay in touch through Biddy Ball’s Twitter @mpccbasketball.

Posted in Athletics, Preschool, Programs, Promotions and Specials, School Aged, Teens | Leave a comment

Back-to-School at MPCC – By Sue Jurjevic

Campers use black lights to find fingerprints during Forensic Files camp

Campers use black lights to find fingerprints during Forensic Files camp

Sue Jurjevic Senior Recreation Specialist Manassas Park Community CenterThank you to all our campers, families, and staff for an amazing season of summer camps. The children have been very busy this summer in the School Age and Playschool Camps! Campers were creative with different types of clay, found clues and solved mysteries, discovered the super hero within themselves, completed a ninja warrior obstacle course, and “traveled” the world – and that’s just a sample of what they accomplished this summer! Even our very own Jacquelyn Tyre-Perry, Recreation Specialist for School Age Programs, got involved in a few camps. She was the culprit in our Forensic Files camp and her staff involved her in a huge way in Messy Art, by having a little shaving cream fun! Please check out our Facebook page for photos/ videos of the fun they had.

I hope your summer has been filled with just as much fun as we have had here in summer camps. With some still having vacations scheduled, trips to the beach or time off to relax by the pool; it is hard to be in the “back to school” mindset. Other than looking forward to the cooler temperatures of fall, we wish our summer fun would last a little longer. Summer can’t last forever and fortunately our staff is here to help you get ready for the upcoming school year.

Extended Care students hanging out in the gymnasium

Extended Care students hanging out in the gymnasium

Jacquelyn has already begun processing registration forms for Extended Care, conducting mandatory orientations, and more; all the necessary preparations for the Fall 2016-2017 Extended Care year. Extended Care is open to all City of Manassas Park residents. With school beginning in only two weeks, it is important to sign up before the August 5th deadline. Ms. Tyre-Perry will also be having mandatory orientations for all new parents on July 29th and August 4th. Please contact her with any questions regarding the program: j.tyre-perry@manassasparkva.gov.

Preschool students working side-by-side

Preschool students coloring

Preschool Lead Teacher, Arely Angel, has been busy this summer getting out and about letting the community know about our popular Preschool Program. Manassas Park Community Center Preschool is open to residents and non-residents. We offer a Seniors class for 4 and 5 year olds and a Juniors class for 3 year olds. We are currently accepting registrations! In order to begin in September, you will need to register before the last orientation date. We will have mandatory orientations on August 9th and 18th at 6pm (English) & 7pm (Spanish). Please contact Arely with any questions regarding the program: a.angel@manassasparkva.gov.

Again I thank you for an amazing summer and look forward to seeing you this fall.

Sue Jurjevic is the Senior Recreation Specialist for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703.335.8872 x3930 or via email at s.jurjevic@manassasparkva.gov.

Posted in Preschool, Programs, School Aged | Leave a comment

How Pokémon Go is Positively Affecting Our Community – By Kaitlyn Collier

Rumor has it Pikachu live at the front desk!

Rumor has it Pikachu live at the front desk!

Kaitlyn Collier, Special Events Coordinator Assistant at the Manassas Park Community Center with a young girl by a gingerbread houseI am sure by now that you have heard of the game being played globally, Pokémon Go. If you yourself aren’t playing it, I’m sure your kids, coworkers, or family members probably are. I personally am astounded at how popular this game quickly became. This one game is bringing so many people together. It is amazing.

Everything this game encourages, reminds me personally of the Manassas Park Community Center’s core values. Pokémon Go encourages the members of the community to get out and explore everything their community has to offer. Our immediate community has multiple Pokestops and Gyms at both the Community Center and Signal Hill Park. You wouldn’t believe how many people we see visiting throughout the day!

Not only does this game encourage exploration, but it also encourages exercise. A lot of the items you need in this game in order to succeed at it involves walking –  a lot of walking. Some goals require up to 10km of walking, but in order to catch Pokémon in this game, you always have to be on the move.

The most amazing aspect of this game in my eyes, is its ability to bring together a community. Bringing together a community is such an important goal of the Manassas Park Community Center. Pokémon Go is helping people create relationships and friendships with the people in their community and many other communities. At any given area with a Pokestop, you will see people gathered of all ages, genders, and backgrounds all discussing the game. You’ll see people giving tips on how to play the game, or where to find the rarest Pokémon, and even new friendships being formed. I have never seen a game that was able to bring together so many people in such a simple way.

So if you have not played, I hope all the positive aspects of this game has persuaded you to. Whether you want to get those extra steps in or maybe go visit that park you’ve been thinking about going to, Pokémon Go will help motivate you to do so. If you’re already playing the game, the next time you’re out walking your neighborhood, bring a bag with you to pick up trash, ask a shelter if they have dogs they need walked, or just introduce yourself to someone at the next Pokestop! You can help this game have even more of a positive effect on our community.

Kaitlyn Collier is the Special Events Coordinator Assistant for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703.335.8872 x0931 or via email at k.collier@manassasparkva.gov.

Posted in Community Center, Fitness, Hobbies, Parks, Technology, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Building a Dialogue Between Teens and the Police – By Tony Thomas

Manassas Park teens with the Manassas Park Police in DC in 2015

Manassas Park teens with the Manassas Park Police for Road Dawgs in DC in 2015

This summer has reinforced what we already know – that policing is hard. Undoubtedly working in law enforcement is one of the most difficult jobs that anyone can take on. It takes special men and women to vow to protect complete strangers. The dangers that officers have been put through seems like it has been covered daily due to issues over the past couple of years in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland, Baltimore, and most recently Baton Rouge, and Dallas.

The issues in each city has led to distrust between the community and local police departments. The distrust has often times led to protests and unfortunately violence at times. Violence is never acceptable, nor appropriate. There is no doubt that change needs to happen. Relationships between police and the community, especially in urban areas is at a real low point. I often hear kids as young as 8, tell me that they don’t trust or like the police. That’s a problem! What could make a young kid distrust someone that they don’t even know – especially someone that is supposed to protect them. Many of our area youth see what is broadcast on the news and social media every day, and they begin to form an early opinion about who they can and cannot trust.

This has to change!

In Manassas Park we are doing our part to change the narrative and perspective that our youth have in regards to law enforcement officers. We want our youth to look at law enforcement officers as role models, protectors, and friends. Since March, Parks and Recreation has taken steps to bridge the gap between teens and police. We recently implemented a 12-week program called ‘Badges for Baseball’. It was a partnership developed with Parks and Recreation and the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office.  The nationwide program was developed by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and aims to bring teens and police together through sports. Although the title of the program has the word baseball in it, the curriculum allowed for us to use any sport that fits our demographic, so we played flag football, basketball, and soccer.

Manassas Park teens participating in badges for baseball at a Potomac Nationals game

Manassas Park teens participating in badges for baseball at a Potomac Nationals game

This program was absolutely free! Each session started off with a roundtable discussion about a positive life skill. It was moderated by two Sheriff Officers and Parks and Recreation leaders. The open dialogue allowed for positive relationships to be built between the teens and officers. We concluded the program with a joint trip with the Boys and Girls Club and the City of Manassas Police Department to attend a Potomac Nationals game. Seeing this experience firsthand showed me that there is hope for the future and trust can be built between the youth and the police. It all starts with a conversation and a willingness to listen to the other side. After the program, the teens walked away with a greater respect and understanding of what officers do, and the officers walked away with a better understanding of how to relate to the issues that today’s youth face.

Another program that we have coming up is our Road Dawgs Camp. We host this camp in conjunction with the Manassas Park Police Department. Once again the goal and idea of this camp is to cultivate positive relationships and show the youth that the police are in fact on your side. This week long camp will provide participants with experiences that they will remember for the rest of their life.

Both the Badges for Baseball Program, and Road Dawgs Camp, although different, serve the same purpose – to help our youth understand the work that law enforcement goes through. Although we may not be able to change what is happening in other cities throughout our country; Manassas Park is committed to at least doing our part to help bring the two sides together for common good and start the positive change right here at home.

Tony Thomas is the Recreation Services Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703.335.8872 x3926 or via email at t.thomas@manassasparkva.gov.

Posted in awareness, Community Service, Programs, Service, Teens, Volunteering | 1 Comment