by Guy Thompson
Middlebury Town Council member and Town Parks Commissioner Dan Frederick has enjoyed the town parks his whole life.
As has his daughter.
And his grandson.
For three generations, they have taken part in the town’s Summer Fun Day Camp, scheduled for June 12 to July 21 this year (see sidebar for additional information).
“I grew up next to Memorial Park, called Cannon Park then,” Frederick recalled. “The parks were right there when we were growing up in town.” Frederick remembers playing “capture the flag” in Memorial Park during the summer.
“The program was in East Park, where there was a basketball court and tennis court. We did a lot of basketball and tennis with the summer program,” he added. The program wasn’t as planned as it is now. “There was someone there overseeing the activities, and we would go down during the day and play in the park. Or we’d go into the old Scout Cabin when it was raining,” Frederick stated.
“We looked forward to it,” he continued. “We enjoyed going down to the park.”
His daughter, Jessica Frederick, would also attend the summer day camp. “I remember going there and the field trip days,” she said. The buses were always filled on field trip days, she noted. The water days, featuring water balloon fights, are highlights she remembers doing as well.
“We did a lot more crafts. It was more structured and scheduled,” she added. Most of the program was in Memorial Park and without the program, “we would have just been at home.”
The daily camp in the park brought kids downtown, and she remembered going over to the variety store to stock up on candy. “I always associate the two together,” she said.
“It was just fun. Even if you didn’t know the others, it didn’t matter. You still had a great time,” Jessica stated.
Her son, Addison Consiglio, went to the day camp when he was in elementary school, even though he was living in Goshen. He attended Orchard View Elementary and during the summer spent a lot of time at his grandparents’ home in Middlebury. “I remember the field trips to Health Works and the zoo,” Addison said. The water days were highlights for him, as well.
By then the day camp had moved out to Riverbend Park, where it is still held today, and playing in the Little Elkhart River and catching crawdads were always possible. And while the program remained structured, counselors would let the kids decide on activities. “It was usually ‘capture the flag,’” Addison said.
Staying with his grandparents in town meant he often went back to their house for lunch, only to return to the park in the afternoon for more fun. Rainy days would mean a movie in the park building across the street from Riverbend. “We also got to help decorate picnic tables,” Addison added.
Along with moving to different parks, the program has changed over the years. “It is much more organized than when I went,” Dan said. He remembered being young and allowed to roam around town. “Now, you wouldn’t think of dropping off without a coordinator there with an organized event and activities.” Heather Carmen is the current program director.
The program gives kids living in town a great opportunity to get outside during the summer and enjoy everything the parks have to offer. “It’s wonderful for single parents,” Dan pointed out. “It’s a pretty cool thing and it’s nice to have it available.”
The program is funded by the town, with contributions from Middlebury, Jefferson and York townships. “We’re proud of the residents and kids, and work to do everything we can for them” Dan said. “We want to show we care about them.”
“The program has been very important to us and I couldn’t be prouder of our parks department,” Dan continued. “And I’m pleased that, over the years, residents have continued to support our parks.”
All three have fond memories of the program and are glad that it has continued to be offered to the kids in Middlebury.
And Addison is looking to bring it full circle. “He’s thinking about being a counselor,” Jessica said.
Addison noted that if he was a counselor, he would still let the kids decide on the activities. Chances are, it’ll be “capture the flag.”