Last summer, the Outdoor Adventures program offered youth of all ages a range of activities every evening from Monday-Friday at East Phillips Community Center. Activities were open to anyone, but space was limited, and managed by MPRB staff, Naturalists, Rec Center managers, and community members. Activities began in May and ran weekly, all summer long, until September 2. However, there are plans for three additional field trips to bring kids off-site for a day of adventure this Fall. The program was made possible, in part, because of a 2022 People for Parks Fund grant.
Biking was offered Tuesdays and Thursdays 5-7pm, with Tuesday’s bike ride featuring an MPRB Naturalist leader that incorporated an additional level of outdoor learning. Camping in the City, a camping education program, was open to all park-goers on Wednesdays from 6-8pm. On Thursday, they offered a Girls-on-the-Go program, which provided outdoor adventure skills and activities for girls only. Beach days incorporated canoeing, paddle boarding, and water safety on Friday afternoons from 1-4pm.
I was able to stop by for a Wednesday evening of Camping in the City. Just outside the rec center were tents, hammocks, and camping chairs for the kids to explore, learn about, but mostly play in. I was even invited into a couple of the young girls’ “new home,” as they called it, and given a tour of the tent they had claimed as their own for an evening of laughter and make-believe.The evening always starts out with a different outdoor-themed activity. This week the kids were learning about homemade water filters, and with materials provided by program leaders, they were able to construct and test out their own water filters. Kids were also able to design a personalized reusable water bottle with markers and stickers to take home with them. As the evening went on, everyone began to gather around the fire pit in a circle, where they roasted banana boats topped with a plethora of tasty garnishes. Once the “Jam Band” started playing a collection of crowd favorites, I knew the party had just begun.
I was struck by the excitement and positive energy that circulated at East Phillips. You could tell there were many regulars who showed up weekly, as well as newcomers who were invited in with open arms. The daily programs create skill-building, recreation, and friendship for kids in the Phillips neighborhood and surrounding areas.