Kids enjoyed the new "winter recreation" program at the Detroit Lakes Community Center last week -- even those that just showed up and had no idea it was going on.
They were able to just join in, with no signing up or red tape, because the program is modeled after the popular "summer rec" program. The idea is to provide structured events -- anything from dodgeball to crafts -- and let anybody participate.
"I like kickball the most, and whiffleball," said 9-year-old Gage Rogstad. But he's happy to go with the flow and participate in activities as they occur.
"I think it's fun," said 10-year-old Alex Swanson. "It's kind of hard when we do kickball or some other games, but when it's crafts, it's fun."
She was sitting at a table in the gymnasium, using colorful construction paper and green pipe cleaners to make a New Year's Eve hat.
"We're doing arts and crafts right now, which was a big hit with them," says the leader of the gang, DLCCC Program Coordinator Matt Kensinger.
He says kids appreciate having something to do over the holiday break.
"It's kind of nice to have some organized activities for kids to do, other than spend their time playing video games," he said. "There's nothing wrong with video games, but it's nice to have them active and out and around, not just sitting at home."
This was the first time the community center has held a winter recreation program. It was held Monday through Thursday, with a different schedule every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Kensinger is happy with the turnout.
"So far, it's gone great," he said Wednesday morning. "We've had about 40 kids in the afternoons and 25 or 30 in the mornings."
The regular group at winter rec was a bit younger than that at summer rec, but some had ties to that program -- as did the providers, all of whom worked the summer rec program last year.
"There's Reed Oistad, Mike Klyve, Caitlin Berg and myself," Kensinger said. He expects most if not all to work the summer recreation program again this year.
At various times over the four days of winter rec the kids played pickleball, floor hockey, mat ball, tennis, capture the flag, kingpin, lightning, four-square, dodgeball, racquetball, whiffleball, basketball and did crafts.
Klyve also took a group of kids swimming in the community center pool.
"They had fun swimming around for about an hour," Kensinger said.
Get a game or activity going, and kids will find it, he said.
"It's the same kind of deal as summer rec," said Kensinger. "It's kind of cool -- we had kickball earlier, and kids here who didn't even know there was a (winter rec) program came and joined in."
Younger kids and their parents appreciate that the games are supervised and kept under control, he added.
If the community center holds winter rec again next year, Gage Rogstad has this advice for kids:
"It's very fun and you should try it!"