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Provides healthy activities

by: JOHN BOWLER - Senior Sylvia Kimbley, back center, tells children a story during Crooked River Ranch's Summer Recreation Program. Started in the 1990s, the program is run primarily by Ranch Seniors, and draws over 50 Ranch children.In earlier days at Crooked River Ranch, around the 1990s, the late Kitty Pullen, an active, highly respected and well-known Ranch resident and member of the CRR Club and Maintenance Association Board of Directors, decided that Ranch schoolchildren deserved an organized summer recreation program.

The program would serve two purposes: keep them occupied in healthy activities for two weeks and make good use of Ranch facilities. She also convinced her colleagues on the board that the Ranch could afford to fund the modest cost of such a program and provide some volunteers to help run it.

Pullen initiated the original Summer Recreation Program, set a pattern for subsequent sessions and oversaw its operation during its fledgling years. The program lasts for two weeks. At least that’s the way it has been told by some of Kitty’s successors who are still involved.

Pullen, who incidentally was the former co-owner of the Sandbagger restaurant with her husband, had to give up her involvement in the Summer Rec Program around 2001, due to infirmity; she died in 2008. A group of Senior Ladies took her place. Several of them have been actively involved for the past 10-12 years and still are.

They have been joined and assisted by a host of other Ranch volunteers, young and old, and several Ranch organizations. The leader of the Summer Rec Program is a Ranch Senior, Sylvia Kimbley, who is assisted by Seniors Earleen Arthur, Edie Williams, Fran Davis and Margie Coffey, all of whom have been with the program since Pullen retired.

Last Tuesday morning, several hours were spent observing just how the Ranch Summer Recreation program works. Each day starts off with a swim in the Ranch pool from 9-10 a.m. This year’s sessions have attracted an average daily attendance of slightly over 50 boys and girls of diverse ages.

That’s less than 10 percent of the estimated 600 school-age children living on the Ranch. Kimbley thinks that lack of transportation available to the children to get to the clubhouse area where the program is centered is the limiting factor.

What would help relieve the shortfall in transportation is a bus to pick them up at home, bring them to the program and return them to home when it’s over each day. She doesn’t have a clue how to arrange that and wonders if some benefactor might be interested in doing so. Kimbley can be reached by leaving a message for her with the Ranch receptionist.

After their swim, the kids repair to Ranch Chapel for a snack and a drink, after which they have a wide range of optional activities they can engage in until 11:45 a.m. when the program ends each day. They can choose from various crafts, tennis, golf, pickle ball, disc golf, and softball, all supervised by an assortment of 25 or so volunteers each day with expertise in the activities they oversee. Last Tuesday, for crafts, they could paint birdhouses and keep them courtesy of the Mariposa Lily Garden Club.

They also received tips on how to hula hoop on this particular Tuesday and Senior Margie Coffey led them in some novelty songs, which they engaged in with gusto. Thursday of the first week of the program they were given rides to the CRR Fire Hall on Ranch fire trucks and watched air ambulance helicopters land nearby, beckoned by the fire department. Friday, July 27, a closing picnic was held.

The Ranch Summer Recreation Program illustrates community volunteers’ willingness to spend numerous hours of unselfish effort to help the Ranch’s younger generation enjoy themselves while learning new skills and how to get along with their peers.

What’s most laudable about the program is that those many volunteers do it year after year without being rewarded beyond the satisfaction of knowing they helped a group of youngsters have fun and improve some life skills.

Observations last week revealed that volunteers seem to be having as much fun as the kids. It would be a boon to the Ranch if transportation could be arranged for more children to take advantage of this exemplary community program.

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