By VICTORIA CALDERON
• Leader & Times
With the beginning of summer comes longer days, hotter temperatures and a myriad of fun programs offered by the Recreation Department.
The first big event of summer 2014 will be the annual Hershey Track and Field meet. Starting at 1 p.m. Monday, June 9, boys and girls up to age 14 will have the chance to show off their abilities in running and field events at the Liberal High School track.
Although kids under 8 will be able to participate, only kids 9 through 14 have the chance to advance to the state meet. 1st-, 2nd -and 3rd-place winners of the regional meet have the opportunity to compete June 21 in Salina. From there, winners of the state meets have the chance to participate in the North American Final meet in Hershey, Pa., all expenses paid.
All the groups that qualify for state are as follows: boys 9-10, girls 9-10, boys 11-12, girls 11-12, boys 13-14 and girls 13-14.
Each age group offers slightly different running events for kids to contend for first place in. However, the field events stay the same for all ages: the softball throw and standing long jump. The running events are 50, 100, 200 and 400 meter dash for boys and girls ages 9-10; 100, 200, and 400 meter dash and 800 meter run for ages 11-12; and 100 and 200 meter dash and 800 and 1600 meter run for ages 13-14.
The meet also holds a 4 by 100 meter relay for all age groups, but only 13-14 boys and girls can qualify for the North American Final in this event.
Although the event only brought out about 15 contenders last year, it’s expected to do well this year. Kids from Sublette and the kids from the Summer Adventure program at the Rec are planning on competing.
Registration for the meet can be done at the Rec Center by Blue Bonnet Park or at the event.
Other programs are also springing up. With the opening of Adventure Bay Water Park comes the start of Red Cross swimming lessons. There are four sessions this year: June 9 through 19, June 23 through July 3, July 7 through 17, and July 21 through 31. Each session costs $20.
The lessons offered are parent/tot, toddler, levels 1-5 and adult.
Although not all the classes are filled yet, Activities Supervisor Ronna Stump said that some are full and those interested should sign up as soon as possible.
Another activity for parents who want to get their kids active is tennis. Ages 5 years old through 12th grade can take lessons at the South Blue Bonnet Park tennis courts.
The sessions for tennis lessons will be June 9 through 26 and July 7 through 24. The fee to attend is $15 plus a can of tennis balls.
Lastly, kids can become friendly with nature through the Exploring Nature program. Participants will meet at the Rec Center and be taken out to Arkalon Park each day. Each session is $15 per camper, and campers can be 5 through 12 years old.
The June session is June 10,11, 12, 17, 18 and 19. the July session is on July 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17.
The Exploring Nature program can only take on 10 kids per session, so register now.
“Just come on out and participate,” Stump said. “And if anybody has ideas for new programs, come by and visit with us and see if we can do it. We're always looking for something new.”