OUR CORNER: We all should get the chance to play

A friend stopped me this week to share her story about the amazing generosity she has found during fundraising for Enumclaw’s sixth-grade camp program.

For those who don’t remember, Enumclaw, and White River’s, sixth-grade camp programs were on the chopping block due to budget cuts a few years ago. A group of parents decided the experience of tramping through the woods and poking at sea life was too valuable to let go. Camp was cut in half from the former week-long trip and students, or community members through fundraising efforts, now pick up most if not all the tab, but camp continues.

As I was purchasing a few items in support, and listening to her story, it was a reminder of how our communities continue to rally and support causes regardless of the economic strain.

I’m proud of the Enumclaw community and how it rallied and pulled in resources to rebuild its historic stadium and bring it up to snuff. The community, bless its heart, realized the importance and historic value of playing at Pete’s Pool. It could have easily been an effort to build a facility on the school district land that’s been waiting for a stadium for years, but the school district, the YEAS Committee and the city worked to keep a community tradition alive and well.

Growing up with Enumclaw parks and recreation programs, I was glad they were still around for our kids. Since it was the early days of Title IX, my personal experience as a kid came through my friends, most of them male. We girls were just starting to play, mostly on the boys teams, or powder puff leagues. My dad played basketball for a time, too, with the men’s league.

Most of my memories are from time spent at Pete’s Pool or the many city parks. The Boise Creek Sixplex wasn’t on the radar back then.

As my teenage son searched for a job this summer, I thought of parks and recreation.

The Parks and Recreation Department was once a source of employment for high school students, usually athletes. It was a chance to make a bit of money refereeing or umpiring little kids, or adult league games a couple of nights a week. It was a great multi-generational opportunity. Can you imagine how exciting it was as a third-grader to have the high school basketball star blowing the whistle at your game? Or to find the Hornet who threw a no-hitter Tuesday was standing behind you on the mound Thursday calling balls and strikes?

Alternatively, it had to be a thrill for those high school kids to call fouls on those “legends” in the Pete’s Pool field house who were part of the adult evening leagues. Just think, as a student, you got to rub elbows twice a week with the guy who set the rebound record you were chasing.

Our kids also spent some time in the White River Community Activities Program and I’ve been down to see the Sumner-Bonney Lake Parks and Recreation adult leagues for soccer, volleyball and softball. Those guys and gals know how to have a good time.

Kids, and for that matter adults, will find a way to play. As kids, we played tennis and tossed footballs in the middle of our street. We chipped golf balls in the neighbor’s front yard. We played baseball in the field behind our houses; it wasn’t even our pasture and we had to dodge the horses, but you can hit a baseball pretty far on five acres. We played basketball in barns. We even gave archery a shot; not recommended in a small neighborhood.

I enjoy driving by Garrett Park and seeing it teeming with skateboarders and basketball games. I pass by the Enumclaw High tennis courts almost daily and like to see the families, couples and foursomes out using them at all hours.

We live next door to a park, so our kids spent a lot of time there playing football, soccer, golf and basketball. It’s a small park but with the demand for fields and facilities it has become a location for soccer practice now. Like most of the fields in this area, it’s pretty boggy and it doesn’t take much to tear it up. That worries me a bit. It gets a lot of use and we would like to see it continue to get use, but we’d also like to see it remain in tip-top shape.

It makes me think the community should be building more fields and courts, maintaining the ones we have to the highest standards, and creating more experiences for kids and adults to be active and social for free or for a nominal charge.