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Thu, Aug. 22

Child's play: City offers plenty of options
With the exception of about 200 Parks and Rec summer programs, there's nothing to do

JC AMBERLYN/Miner
Kids play at Walleck Ranch Neighborhood Park Tuesday as part of a field trip put on by the Grace Neal Preschool Summer Camp. Grace Neal conducts field trips twice a week, taking kids to Kingman parks, the downtown pool, and other areas. From left to right are Crystal Burns, Mariah Noli, Shyann Lashorne, Cortney McCans and Crystal Durst.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner Kids play at Walleck Ranch Neighborhood Park Tuesday as part of a field trip put on by the Grace Neal Preschool Summer Camp. Grace Neal conducts field trips twice a week, taking kids to Kingman parks, the downtown pool, and other areas. From left to right are Crystal Burns, Mariah Noli, Shyann Lashorne, Cortney McCans and Crystal Durst.

KINGMAN ­ Darel Fruhwirth, director of the Kingman Parks and Recreation Department, disagrees with a statement he often hears that there is nothing for kids to do in Kingman.

"I grew up in different parts of the country and heard that statement even in Los Angeles," he said.

"There's a lot to do here, and it's just a question of whether things are searched out and parents want to get their kids involved."

The Parks and Recreation Department offers some 200 programs or activities in the summer for children. There is baseball, soccer, high school sports camps, plus year-round soccer.

Fruhwirth added there is a skate park here and other activities, some related to his department, at Cerbat Lanes.

Some churches offer day camps and other activities, plus Boys and Girls Scouts have activities, he said.

"We have all the offerings you can think of as far as youth activities and sports (in Kingman)," Fruhwirth said.

"There's gymnastics along with year-round sports teams, whether soccer, baseball, swimming or tennis. There are even commercial ventures like the movie theater.

"Kids can have a full calendar, and I know of some families that run from one activity to another."

Parks and Recreation schedules trips to Diamondbacks' baseball games and there are 19 miles of hiking trails in town, he said.

If a child is into music, there is even a music store offering lessons and periodic free jam sessions to drop in on, Fruhwirth said.

Fruhwirth's department maintains contact with other Parks and Recreation Departments around the state, sharing brochures and activity ideas. All of those departments meet once a year to compare programs and discuss new ideas, with the conference this summer planned at the end of August in Mesa.

Awards are given at that conference to departments with the best innovative programs, for outstanding service and in other categories.

"Somebody a few years ago said let's have a dog park, and now we do here," he said.

Ed Catalfamo, recreation supervisor with the Bullhead City Parks and Recreation Department, said he occasionally hears the same comment about nothing to do here.

"We definitely need more," Catalfamo said. "There's never enough.

"We have swimming, kids camps and programs within programs. There's softball, Little League and soccer, and Pop Warner football soon will start up.

"There are Special Olympics activities here year-round that include swimming, bowling and golf."

His department has a commission with seven members who meet monthly to discuss programs and activity ideas, Catalfamo said.

The Lake Havasu City Parks and Recreation Department, like Kingman, has much to offer youth, Director Bill Mulcahy said.

His department has a huge after-school program in elementary schools, each of which have 700-900 participating children, Mulcahy said. Physical fitness, arts and crafts, and other activities make for programs within programs.

An "Itty Bitty" gym program recently was added for children ages 2-4. They learn coordination skills through tumbling, balance, rhythm, listening and social skills, Mulcahy said.

The Lake Havasu Rotary Club has sponsored a "kinderswim" program for the past four years.

"We teach pre-school age children how to swim or at least not be afraid of the water," Mulcahy said.

Mulcahy's staff keeps abreast of the latest programs available from the National Parks and Recreation Association and Arizona Parks and Recreation Association.

"We probably don't offer enough programs for high school and junior high school kids," he said. "Of course, a lot of high school kids are working."

Kingman Parks and Recreation has a recreation commission with nine members, Fruhwirth said.

"It meets monthly to solicit new ideas and concepts," he said. "Members ask each other what their friends, family and neighbors say is needed here as one way to get input.

"We also advertise in the newspaper and through recreation brochures, asking the community for help.

"If someone out there has something new, we want to talk to you. We had a sewing class come out of a new family in town with experience in that field, so we put it together and the public has embraced it."

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