Park District celebrates successful summer
Juggler Jason Kollum, of Park Ridge, performs during the last day of summer camp at the Mundelein Community Center. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 23, 2012 2:04PM
MUNDELEIN — Both the heat and the economy impacted popular summer activities in Mundelein this year, but park district officials say they’ve had a successful season anyway.
Aquatics Manager Scott Anthony, who oversees the Barefoot Bay Family Aquatic Center, Spray Park and Diamond Lake Beach, said while numbers have not yet been finalized, he has a good idea that attendance was up over last summer.
“We had a ridiculously awesome June,” he said. “Got a little bit of a slump in July.”
While the warm weather lured people to the water parks and beach earlier than usual, the extreme heat kept them away.
According the National Weather Service, the average temperature in June 2011 was 69.5 degrees. This June, it was 74 degrees. Although there is not yet an average temperature for this past July published by National Weather Service, it promises be above July 2011’s average of 79 degrees since the Chicago area experienced its first triad of days above 100 degrees in July 2012.
When the days are too hot, Anthony said, people don’t even want to go outside.
“Just as much as the heat helped us, the heat hurt us,” he said. “If I get too many hot days in a row, I’ll start to see a slump.”
The new AquaClimb Water Wall, which replaced a slide at the end of last summer, is likely also responsible for high attendance at Barefoot Bay this summer. It’s a 12-feet tall, 6-feet wide climbing wall that kids can jump or drop off of into the pool below.
“It’s been a great amenity,” Anthony said. “I think it’s been used more than the drop slide was.”
Steeple Chase Golf Club also experienced a robust June and slumping July. But, all together, said Bill Brolley, golf operations manager, the number of rounds played this summer is up 22 percent over last summer.
That can be attributed as well to the golf course opening 10 days earlier than usual in March due to nice weather and the course charging 2009 rates.
“We just didn’t feel like raising it with the economy the way it was the last couple years. That’s out way of competing against other courses,” Brolley said. “Hopefully we get three more months of good weather.”
The dangerously hot days forced day campers to spend more time indoors this summer
Myra Tatarowicz, program coordinator for Mundelein Park District, said camp leaders arranged trips to the movies, bowling alleys or other air conditioned buildings.
But, the season was successful in terms of the quality camp counselors and the variety of activities the park district provided, she said.
“I’ve really got to hand it to the counselors and the staff,” she said. “They went through every day with a smile, and if they want to come back that’s a good sign.”
In addition to the tried-and true art and swimming several times a week, new activities provided this summer included a tour of Wrigley Field, attending a Chicago Sky game and a trip to Xtreme Trampolines. Staff from the Busy Brains Children’s Museum visited camps with hands-on exhibits as did staff from Play-Well TEKnologies, which taught engineering to kids with Legos.
“We had some additional folks come in rather than us go out,” Tatarowicz said.
Despite the adaptable counselors and new activities, enrollment this summer was down by about 20 percent, she estimated.
“We’re really not sure why,” she said. “I can only attribute that to the economy.”
After taking a small breather, Tatarowicz will get to work on her budget and begin planning for 2013 day camps. But first, she’ll prepare for the fall activities, such as the annual Halloween festival.