Rocky Hill Parks & Recreation Leads with Empower

“Spring, a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be.”

The spring season is a sign of renewal and rejuvenation; and what better way to rejuvenate your spirit than adventure! Outdoor adventures take us back to the basic concept of enjoying, and reconnecting with, nature through play and recreation. Whether you are seeking “solo-time” to decompress and break free from the stressors of work, school, or life, or you desire to reconnect with friends and family through adventure play, there are plenty of recreation opportunities available in your communities!

We go “right to the source” in our third and final edition of the “Recreation-Themed” Lead with Empower Blog by connecting with Logan Gauvin, the Recreation Supervisor from Rocky Hill Parks & Recreation. Visit the Rocky Hill Parks & Recreation website and follow them on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to learn more about their recreation offerings for adults, youths and families, and athletes

The past 12 months have been full of many challenges for many different people. Describe how the pandemic has impacted your ability to provide recreation and leisure services to the Rocky Hill Community Members.

Describing how the pandemic has impacted our ability to provide recreation and leisure services to those in our community can best be compared to the movie, “Jumanji” – every day was like another turn in that game filled with uncertainty and new rules to follow making it a very challenging process. I’m pretty sure that, at one point, we had “murder hornets” which honestly sounded like something straight out of “Jumanji”!

Kidding aside, we spend days, weeks, and even months, creating our recreational offerings for our community members which all changed with the pandemic, forcing us to adjust and adapt on the fly, and unfortunately, putting some of us in position to cancel or postpone some of our annual offerings.

How did the Rocky Hill Parks & Recreation Team “adjust and adapt” to the challenges in providing recreation services to your community last year? What were some of the new/creative opportunities you offered? How were they received by your community members?

As I mentioned earlier, the pandemic changed the way we plan our offerings drastically. It forced us to re-imagine so many things and become even more creative to find ways to keep our community members engaged. Safety is always the top priority of any offering, but with the pandemic not showing any signs of disappearing, we had to make sure we had even more safety measures in place to assure our community members that they would be able to recreate with peace of mind. As we learned the guidance being put forth, we quickly adjusted plans and ideas to get our community members engaged as soon as possible!

With terms like “social distancing”, “contactless”, and “face masks”, we had to completely re-imagine our offerings. But we were creative and came up with some offerings that not only were “compliant with guidance” (another term), but ended up becoming so popular, they gained media attention and event award recognition, making them become permanent additions! Some of those offerings include UFO Frisbee Nights, Drive-In Movie Series, and our Virtual Running Series. We even offered an “Ugly Sweater Virtual 5K” for the holiday season.

  • UFO Frisbee Nights: a 9-hole family friendly frisbee golf course that utilized over 1,000 LED markers and Frisbees to light up the night, creating a one of a kind experience.
  • Drive-In Movie Series: we created as authentic of a “drive-in” experience as possible utilizing FM transmitter technology to broadcast the movie audio to each vehicle
  • Virtual Running Series: an initiative designed to motivate people to get outdoors and keep healthy

Overall, all of our offerings were very well received by the Rocky Hill Community. During times where there were many rules and restrictions on what you can/can’t do, we were able to design opportunities to get our families out and engaged safely. Our UFO Frisbee Nights was recognized by the National Recreation and Parks Association and awarded as the “2020 Program of Merit” by the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association. The UFO Frisbee Nights was also featured on FOX61 News!

What are some of the recreation offerings you have planned for your community members in 2021. Share some examples for Adults, Youths and Families, and Athletes.

The start of 2021 left us a little uncertain, but fast forward to now, with vaccines rolling out and restriction easing up, we are full speed ahead in trying to bring back many of our cancelled offerings from 2020 trying to get our communities offerings back up to speed with the addition of some of our new offerings we created in 2020. Some of those offerings include:

  • Youths and Families: For summer 2021, we are please to announce the re-opening of our Summerscape camp offering for campers grades Pre-K through 8. Additionally, we are planning to offer our summer concert series, drive-in movie series, UFO Frisbee Nights and more!
  • Athletes: An exciting announcement for summer 2021, we’ve partnered with our high school’s athletics department (the Rocky Hill Terriers) and are launching the “Jr. Terriers Athletics Series”. We plan to offer mini camps and clinics to participants, entering grades 5 through 8, in partnership with the varsity coaches and athletes of our high school sports programs (basketball, football, ice hockey, and soccer), giving young athletes direct exposure to our high school athletic programs and opportunities to learn from leaders within their community.

How do your recreation services impact your community members? What are you most excited about in 2021?

With the pandemic having such a diverse impact on the world, it actually became a calling, in my opinion, for the professionals in the recreation and leisure services. Many families were faced with financial struggles, forced to work and learn from home, spend countless hours behind a screen for virtual calls and meetings, and so much more. Recreation and leisure was more critical than ever in getting people outdoors and giving them a sense of normalcy back in their lives. Departments all over the country (and world really…) rose to the challenge and created so many unique and amazing offerings to get our communities engaged again proving that there’s no challenge that would get in the way of recreating.

For 2021, personally I’m excited for it all! I’m hopeful that we will continue to head towards a sense of normalcy and be able to re-introduce many of the offerings that were paused or cancelled in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. But also further develop our traditional offering list by adding some of the new offerings we created and adapted in 2020 to become regular offerings such as our UFO Frisbee Nights and our Drive-In Movie series.

Discover your Sense of Adventure with Empower Leadership

Thank you for checking out part 3 of our 3-part series highlighting local parks and recreation departments and their offerings for adults, youths, families, and athletes. Big thanks to Amry Shelby (Bristol Parks & Recreation), Maggie Winiarski, Megan Dowling, Ashley Santana, Matt Scofield, and Lindsey Smida (New Britain Parks & Recreation), and Logan Gauvin (Rocky Hill Parks & Recreation) for their great contributions to the Lead with Empower Blog!

Visit the Rocky Hill Parks & Recreation website and follow them on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to learn more about their recreation offerings for adults, youths and families, and athletes

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