Starting today, the city Department of Recreation and Parks plans to provide free summer camps for some Baltimore youths for the first time in nearly two decades, officials said.
"Budget cuts forced many of these programs to stop in the late 1970s, so this will be the first time in 20 years that a lot of these playgrounds will host free summer programs," said Lynn Baker, assistant to the director of Recreation and Parks.
Offered through a grant from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program received through the Department of Social Services, the "Playground Program" will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through Aug. 11. Children ages 5 to 12 will participate in sports, take nature classes, produce arts and crafts, and work on fitness. Additional activities are planned throughout the summer, officials said.
Registration for the program will be conducted on a first-come basis at the 14 locations today. Each site will have about three counselors and anywhere from 35 to 50 children are expected each day, said Annette Stenhouse, Recreation and Parks marketing director.
Officials credited department Director Thomas V. Overton with reviving the program because of his interest in providing a structured summer for those who cannot afford to attend the city's Summer Fun Camps.
"We wanted to provide recreational facilities for the communities which did not have recreational centers or programs," Stenhouse said.
Recreation and Parks offers Summer Fun Camps at 45 locations in the city with fees that vary depending on location.
"This is just the beginning of new and exciting programs we hope to be ushering in in the months to come," said Associate Director Zenobia McLendon.
Recreation and Parks plans to expand park services by opening parks on more Saturdays, implementing photography and computer labs in some recreational centers, and offering basic software courses.
Information on the Playground Program: 410-396-7900.
Radecke Playfield -- 5700 Radecke Ave.
Joseph Lee Playground -- 5900 E. Pratt St.
Ellwood Park -- Orleans St. & Ellwood Ave.
Elmer A Henderson Elementary #101 -- 1101 N. Wolfe St.
Hamilton Recreation Center -- Bayonne & Sefton avenues.
Waverly Recreation Center -- 800 E. 34th St.
Lyndhurst Playground -- 835 Allendale St.
Wilber Waters -- Baker & Dukeland streets.
Irving Luckman Memorial Park -- Glen Avenue.
H.S. Callowhill Aquatic Center -- 2821 Oakley Ave.
Wilkins Avenue Playground -- Catherine Avenue & Ashton Street.
Greater Model Recreation Center -- Saratoga Street & Arlington Avenue.
Mora Crossman -- 701 S. Rappolla St.
Farring-Baybrook -- 4501 Farring Court.