Southborough – Most Southborough residents know of the RAP program – the well-attended, after-school programs offered at Southborough’s Finn, Woodward, Neary and Trottier schools. But Southborough’s Recreation Department offers much more.
Programs are offered for all ages and include a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Men’s ice hockey, youth tennis, adult full-body boot camp, horseback riding, school vacation camps and much more. Want to meet fellow residents? Sign up for the weekly, adult co-ed volleyball.
The Recreation Department also supports popular town events like the Heritage Day road race, Summer Nights, Gobble Wobble, and special events like day trips to NYC.
But there is something else the Recreation Department offers that may be more surprising – jobs.
Doreen Ferguson has been working in the Recreation Department for seven years, and is currently the director.
“We like to offer kids in our town a job,” Ferguson said. “And that’s one of the reasons why supporting the programs is so important.”
The more children participating in town programs, the more jobs are created for the town’s teens and young adults. While most of the jobs are summer jobs, there are occasional openings at other times of year.
Besides valuable work experience, the town’s young adult residents also build ties to their community.
Program Coordinator Paula Fagan explained that some children start as participants in the program and then, as they grow older, transition to becoming teachers.
“We have several people who have made the transition,” Fagan said, “and it’s a win-win for everyone. The little kids like looking up to the big kids, and I think the big kids like being in the role of being looked up to.”
One of the town residents who is making the transition from student to teacher is Jocelyn Pietro. Starting in the third grade, Pietro participated in after-school arts and crafts, and karate programs. She also attended the summer camp, where she teaches.
Now an eighth-grader at Trottier, Pietro has been a teaching assistant since the 5th grade. Last summer, she was a counselor in training (CIT) at the summer camp.
“I like working with the kids,” she said,” and it’s great for me because I want to be a teacher.”
Of course, working with young children can be challenging.
“In the mornings, some of the young kids don’t want their parents to go,” she said.
But it’s also really fun.
“On Friday afternoons, the ice cream truck comes,” she said. “All of the little kids get covered in ice cream…they don’t care that they are dirty, they are all smiles.”
Southborough resident Cameron Chapski is now a sophomore at Quinsigamond Community College, and has been teaching various sports classes in the Recreation Department for five years.
“The kids are great, and I basically get paid to play games,” he said.
Of course, he also concedes the kids can be a handful and it takes some skill to keep things under control. Still, it’s a rewarding experience.
“I’ve had one kid the entire time…he takes all of my classes,” he said.
Planning is also about to start for expanded teen programs. Along with the United Parishes of Southborough (an association of the town’s churches), the Recreation Department is interested in offering more activities yearround for teens. The department welcomes resident suggestions for possible teen activities. Contact the Recreation Department via its website, www.southboroughrecreation.com, or by phone at 508-229-4452.