Creative Programming for Kids That Raises City Parks Revenues

With budget cuts always a possibility, some cities have tried creative recreational programming for kids that raises parks revenues.


While the current administration’s proposed $1.5 billion budget cut to U.S. national parks has been well-documented, states park systems in Utah, Connecticut and Iowa have faced cuts as well. Cities haven’t fared much better.

Lino Lakes, Minnestoa, recently cut 30 recreation programs and a staff position in its parks department; and at a recent meeting, Portland, Oregon, residents were asked to weigh in on a plan to reduce 5 percent ($3.2 million) from that city’s parks budget.

In order to increase parks revenues – and stave off budget cuts -- other cities have cultivated creative programming to keep residents engaged. Some has been geared toward youngsters, in an attempt to foster a lifelong love of parks in children.

Little Thespians

The Deerfield Park District in Illinois promotes a Creative and Performing Arts Program for children in which students begin their creative journey as young as 18 months with a portfolio of art, ceramics, dance, voice, piano and performing arts class options, according to the district’s website.

For example, Deerfield’s Mini Footlighters Theater workshop allows preschoolers to “discover the wonders of performance and play using their body, mind and imagination.”

A nine-class, Mini Footlighters workshop costs $212 for residents and $274 for nonresidents. Little Footlighters precedes Mini Footlighters, and kids eventually age into Broadway Bound, then Performance Troupe and finally Spotlighters.

Different Sports

San Francisco Recreation and Parks' extensive catalogue of programs for young people includes a variety of alternative recreation opportunities for youth and teens.

Seven-to-10-year-olds who sign up for Intro to Fencing for Juniors will be introduced to the elegant sport of fencing and will “learn discipline, keep fit and learn to strive to achieve excellence in a respectful and safe environment,” according to the brochure. Cost is $140 for the 10-week course.

Shred N Butter, another program offered in San Francisco parks, is for 6-to-13-year-olds who want to learn and try out new skateboarding tricks on a variety of ramps and obstacles. The 10-week course costs $100, and participants are expected to provide their own equipment.

Culinary Creations

In upstate New York, the Orchard Park Recreation department offers one-week Culinary Creations classes for 8- to 14-year-olds each summer, in partnership with Orchard Fresh market. In the class, campers will explore the world of culinary arts and learn a variety of cooking skills (knife handling, seasoning, food presentation, etc.) and practice by creating fun and tasty items. “Each day will be fun, different and filled with sampling,” according to the department's website.

Cost is $155 for early registration, $175 after June 1.

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