To the Editor:
Thanks Blue Stone Press for your generous coverage of Rochester’s Recreation/Youth Department and its summer program (August 16, 2013 issue, pages 2 and 19: “Live well, laugh often” and “A summer like no other for Rochester youth”). It helped the readers become aware of the department’s goals and the amazing variety of activities included in this year’s summer program.
I participated to most field trips as well as many other activities of the summer program, and I can confirm that the way it was organized deserves admiration. I truly believe Rochester’s could be the best such program in the County!
There was a record number of kids registered for the program (75), with up to 40 participants per week. That made the job of MaryAnne Gates, program director for over 10 years, more challenging than ever. She described the program for this paper’s readers and praised the people who helped her. Now it’s time to say a few words about her being simply phenomenal!
MaryAnn Gates was always the first and last to check on everything, from all kids’ names read on the bus to picking up left-behind backpacks, clothes, or even shoes! Her actions and reactions show dedication, passion, loving care, attention to details. She was firm but also very kind… For all the kids MaryAnne Gates was a mother and a nurse, and they ran to her for advice, medicine, food, hugs, breather, towels, sun-protection lotion, or scissors. She confessed on Facebook that she hears her name called when she sleeps!
I loved being part of this summer program. As in the previous years, it included the weekly super-delicious “Lunch with Tana,” but also new programs like Richard Miller’s “Good Guys” presentation. It’s hard to describe the joy of watching the kids discover, explore, learn, play, have fun.
Among the most memorable scenes I recall: the kids learning how the locks worked while visiting the D & H Canal Museum; watching trains and boats from the Walkway over the Hudson River; transforming a counselor in a Mer-man while burying him in the sand at Lake Taghkanic; riding a boat in the Howe Caverns; building castles on the Ulster Landing beach… All of these and many other moments were made priceless by kids’ authentic reactions.
While making my feet disappear under wet sand at Ulster Landing, one of my new little girlfriends said “This is magic!… Who doesn’t like magic?” Congratulations and thanks to all involved for a superbly organized summer program! Let’s continue to create magic for our children.