By Christine Sampson
The Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor’s annual beach nights for students at Long Beach in Noyac will kick off on Wednesday, June 28. The free, supervised program, which is sponsored by the Southampton Town Youth Bureau and the Suffolk County Youth Bureau, typically attracts between 30 and 80 children each Monday, Wednesday and Friday night. Although the future is unclear for a different YRC-supported program, the Youth Advocacy and Resource Development (YARD) program at Pierson Middle-High School, YRC president Janet Grossman wants families to know the beach recreation program is still robust and proceeding as planned.
How important has the beach program for the youth of this area?
A lot of kids can’t go to camp or they can’t go away. This gives them a chance at night, when parents can transport them, to see friends, play sports, to have a good time. It pretty much makes the summer for a lot of kids.
Do you think it has had an impact on mitigating risky behaviors among students, such as drug or alcohol abuse?
Yes. That’s one of the purposes of our organization. Also, it’s a wonderful thing to see kids interacting face-to-face rather than with their fingers and screens. It gives them a chance to meet new friends and visitors from other areas. It really widens their experiences.
What kind of work goes into the planning and execution of the beach program?
We have to promote it. We have to hire personnel. We have to arrange for all the special events. The program director, Patricia Burns, and her family are handling a lot of this. She should have the credit.
What do you have in store for the kids this summer?
This year we want to include the sixth graders. We’ve had some in the past, but it’s not been totally open to sixth graders. They sort of snuck in. So it is open now to sixth to tenth grades. In addition to having sports and games, we plan to have more special activities, such as those proposed by the YARD youth advisory board — outdoor movies, a bungee run, an obstacle course, various competitions, beach volleyball and a tug-of-war. We are also making arrangements to have Sag Harbor sleight-of-hand artist Alan Kronzek do interactive, close-up card magic with the kids in July.
What are the needs of the program right now?
New YRC board members. We’re looking for people who are willing to come to maybe four meetings a year for an hour and a half to give us some input, make some decisions and contribute in any way they can. We provide a lot for free, but we can’t do it without a board.
What is your hope for the after-school program at Pierson?
As for the coming school year, we are hoping the newly constituted school board will continue providing an after-school program at Pierson with a strong recreational component. This will enable the grants from Sag Harbor Village, North Haven Village and New York State to continue flowing to the school district. The YRC has provided all of the supplies and equipment for the program. We believe most middle and high school students are stressed after the school day and need some time fro relaxation and socialization before starting homework. Time set aside for doing homework could certainly be part of an after school program later on in the afternoon.
Those interested in getting involved with the YRC board may contact Ms. Grossman at email@example.com. Information about the beach program, including the calendar of events, registration form and more, may be found online at www.yrcsagharbor.org.