For decades Rollinsford has offered summer camp for the children in Town. In 2016, when the long-time director and active Recreation Committee members were resigning at the same time, the Select Board took the opportunity to discontinue the program because of safety and liability concerns.
A number of parents who valued the program were upset that it would be discontinued and were allowed by the Select Board to recreate the program with a few stipulations:
● that the volunteers make the camp safe and reduce the known liabilities
● bring in as much in fees as it would cost to run the program
● manage the camp in such a way that it would not be an administrative burden on the Town as the administrative office was already very busy and understaffed
The first year Camp Rolly was created it operated much better than ever before. The second year, Teen Camp was added. This past summer, again both Camp Rolly and Teen Camp were offered.
This past year there were a number of liability concerns some of which can be mitigated, others may be beyond what the Town can afford to accommodate. If the Town is to offer a camp, it must accept those who register. We cannot nor would we want to discriminate and yet we need to be sure we can afford to offer a program that meets the needs of those who might apply. Whether or not the Town can do that safely and affordably is questionable.
Given the situations that came up this past summer, the Select Board’s concern for the program has increased. The Recreation Committee has been given the directive that job descriptions for each role of the Committee must be written out so that the volunteers know what they are taking on and the timeline for each part of the role. The jobs of the Committee include, interviewing staff to be hired by the Select Board, writing grants, managing the registrations, planning field trips, etc. In addition, policies and forms need to be created to ensure everything can run smoothly with limited risk.
At this point, the Committee has lost a key member. Membership of the Committee has dwindled at a time when there is a lot of work to be done. The Committee would like for the Select Board to provide the administrative support necessary to get the program where it needs to be. The Select Board is struggling with this decision because they understand the value of the program to the residents and yet it is not clear whether we can afford to operate the program at the level it would need to be. And would the residents pay an increased fee for a program with fewer field trips? What is clear is that for the program to continue, it would require a substantial amount of time of the Town Administrator and a Recreation Director would likely need to be created to manage the work to be done. Volunteers would still need to help as well. Here it is budget planning season and the additional cost is unknown. What would happen if a director position were created for an insufficient amount of time or one could not be found for the allocated amount? Would the program still be adequately improved and allowed to continue? Would it be better to take a year off while working these things out? These are the questions the Select Board is considering.
Again, the Select Board sympathizes with the families who rely on this program. It has been part of the Town in one form or another for many, many years and is known to be the most affordable option in the area. We can all agree that it would be disappointing if it were to be discontinued. However, the Select Board is charged with managing the operations of the Town. This includes expenses, revenues and liabilities.
The Select Board welcomes your feedback about how to best balance the challenges before them regarding summer programming. Please join the Select Board for a public hearing at 6:00pm on Tuesday, October 15th at the Town Hall.