Times Editorial - A frustrating summer, for sure

Mike Christopherson

    It’s nice that the City of Crookston’s Park & Recreation Department didn’t want to leave dozens of young summer staff it usually hires to work in youth programs hanging when it came to whether or not they’d have a job with the City this summer, so the decision was made in May to nix all summer programming.

    But hindsight is 20/20, and the scrambling currently underway to come up with some sort of scaled-back, socially distanced program that focuses on skills development and motor skills and drills, but no organized sports or team practices and no organized sports or team games – games are a no-no in Phase III of the state’s reopening – is likely going to disappoint kids and parents more than it pleases them.

    Parks & Rec programming that gets kids out of the house and out of their parents’ hair is a reliable summer staple that families lean on year after year. And let’s just say it: It provides incredibly affordable child care for kids during a significant chunk of their day, which means less child care for their parents to fret over and pay for.

    An incredibly understanding and positive handful of parents attended this week’s Crookston Park Board meeting to offer suggestions and ideas and even volunteer their services as Parks & Rec leaders try to put a modified five-week program together that would commence on July 6. It was a discussion that was refreshing and even inspiring to witness.

    But just you wait. If what is being pondered now – a four-day per week program that has kids going only two of those four days for 90 minutes of kicking balls around and learning other agility and athletic-related skills – it won’t be long for the less mature kids, no doubt told by their parents beforehand to be as open-minded as possible, to be less patient and understand than their parents. Bet money that plenty of parents will be irked in rather rapid fashion, too.

    But that’s where we are. The parents offered up a lot of solid ideas this week, but it all sounded like more people, more uncertainty and less social distancing. Yes, good luck getting these kids to consistently social distance. They’re kids! And in order for especially eager parents to do anything on their own, approved COVID-19 “preparedness plans”will be required for each activity, whether it’s some parents running baseball or softball activities, or whatever.

    Oh, what a mess. Good luck trying to make something good and positive out of it all this summer. Sincerely, good luck.