For the past 25 years, Dr. Barb Brock has helped recreation students plan events for area youth, and this year her Recreation Programming class teamed up with the Airway Heights Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department and Sunset Elementary School in Airway Heights on Nov. 14 to host the Once Upon a Time Family Fall Night.
Members of the class signed up for different committees, ranging from refreshments and decorations to sponsorships and press.
Sarah Petrino, a junior majoring in recreation management, chose to be part of the refreshments committee.
“Each student is responsible for getting three sponsors,” she said. “So everybody goes around to local businesses, or people that they know, to get donations. I’m on the refreshments committee, so I got to talk to Willow Springs, and they donated 300 hot dogs and 300 hot dog buns. I also talked to Yokes in Airway Heights, and they donated 300 Capri Suns. My third donor is Banner Bank, and they’re donating a gift basket to raffle.”
Each student was also in charge of running a carnival booth with a partner.
“Our carnival has a different theme every year, and this year our theme is Once Upon a Time, so everybody’s booth correlates with either a book or a fantasy story,” Petrino said.
Petrino’s Dr. Seuss themed booth was called One Fish Two Fish. Children “fished” for prizes with fishing poles made from wooden dowels.
The carnival also featured free food and beverages, face painting, a bounce house, rock wall climbing and more than a dozen book or fairytale themed booths with different carnival games.
“It’s a recreation program, and if we work for city parks and [recreation] departments, we’ll be responsible for putting on youth programs in the future, so this is good experience to see what happens behind the scenes of these events,” Petrino said.
Not only is it good experience, but it also counts for a good portion of their total grade.
“There’s three big parts of the programming class,” Brock said. “One’s the textbook, one’s an innovative program guide where they do a fictitious population and carry it through what we call the six steps to programming, and the third thing is the event, which sort of pulls a little bit of everything. So this is like a third of their total grade.”
Airway Heights Parks, Recreation and Community Services Supervisor Andy Gardner is a former student of Brock’s and has worked with her the last three years to organize events with her recreation programming class.
“Part of one of the things I can be happy I came in and did was provide them with the idea that nothing is ever going to be this easy,” Gardner said. “You’re never going to get 36 people all taking care of every single thing again. But being able to handle your responsibility as one person can help. When they all do it all at once, obviously they see how easy it becomes.”
While Brock and Gardner helped guide the students, the end result was ultimately planned and executed by the class.
“It’s their baby, and they know it,” Brock said. “I love watching that culmination. It’s never been bad. It’s just been a really super experience.”