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Summer fun: Red Wing summer recreation program grows

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Dozens of kids learned about the Mississippi River hands-on Thursday, examining nets, mussels and fish.

It was all part of the summer recreation program, which wrapped up this week.

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The eight-week program includes park time as well as field trips and enrichment days, which Red Wing YMCA Youth Development Director Josh Thygesen said has been a draw.

"We constantly hear they love the variety," he said of participants. "Enrichment activities have been from water safety to cooking nutrition to science day to art."

That interest seems evident in the number of kids signed up for the summer recreation program.

Last year 93 people participated in the program. This year, there were 143, Thygesen said.

Thygesen said kids are consistently coming back each week to the park programs. He said the staff at those programs have been creative and coming up with "not just having sports games but really adding in there different math, reading, social activities that really can grow these kids over the summer so they're ready to go back to school."

They added many slots to the field trips as well. The staff takes up to 120 kids on each field trip, he said. The program listing included trips to Valleyfair, the Minnesota Zoo and Colvill waterpark.

Thygesen said nearly all the participants from last year signed up for this summer's recreation activities, plus people new to the program. He said he expects even more families to take part next year.

He credits much of that growth to the mix of field trips, park time and enrichment days, which he said have been successful in keeping kids interested, active and learning.

"The opportunity to have some science education, some art, music education in the summertime," Thygesen said. "I think people were interested in the wide variety the kids were having."

The program is designed for kids ages 5 to 13. It cost $50 for park play and enrichment days and extra fees for field trips ranged from $1 to $25 per trip.

Thygesen said while there are more kids singing up each year, they are trying to keep the cost down.

"We're trying to keep the fee as low as possible to try to keep it open to the entire community," Thygesen said. "It's an extremely important program for the kids in the community."

Right now a lot of funding comes from donors including companies, local organizations and governments, he said.

That list includes Xcel Energy, Treasure Island Resort & Casino, General Mills, the city of Red Wing, Community Education and Recreation and the Red Wing Family YMCA.

"We've had a lot of support from the community and our donors," he said. "We're very happy with how the program has gone."

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Danielle Killey
Danielle Killey is the city reporter for the Republican Eagle, where she has worked since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.
(651) 301-7877
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