A Conversation With Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson, executive director of SYS. Courtesy photo
Scott Johnson, executive director of SYS. Courtesy photo

By Christine Sampson

Scott Johnson is in his 15th year as the executive director of Southampton Youth Services, Inc., which serves not only youth but also all other residents and visitors, young and old. The organization operates the Southampton Town Recreation Center in partnership with the town. In addition to flagship events like this Saturday’s Family Fun Day, its regular offerings include sports leagues, fitness classes, martial arts, sewing classes, theater lessons, music classes and more. Mr. Johnson spoke to The Sag Harbor Express about the goal of the organization’s upcoming Family Fun Day and the larger mission of SYS.

What is the goal of Family Fun Day?

Basically, this is our time to give back and thank the community for all the support they give us throughout the year. Any net proceeds go directly to our scholarship fund, which helps us help kids who may be underprivileged and can’t afford the camps or programs we offer. We’re here for everybody and want everybody to be able to take part.

What can guests expect from this annual event?

This will be our 11th annual Family Fun Day. We usually have a couple of new programs, a couple of new exhibits. We do exhibitions during the day. It will be fun. It always is. At 11:30 a.m. we’ll have Joy Dance Academy, at 12:15 p.m. we’ll have East End Fencing and Archery — just don’t stand in their way — and at 1 p.m. will be JKA Hamptons Karate, 1:45 p.m. is Hamptons Gymnastics East, and 2:15 p.m. will be baton twirling. It’s basically a carnival-type atmosphere with games, food, face painting, arts and crafts, balloon twisters, giant inflatables, photo booths. It’s relatively inexpensive — kids 12 and under are free, for teens it’s $5 and for adults it’s $10.

What do you think is the importance of events like this for families?

With what’s going on in the world and the country especially, it’s great to see families together. They can participate together in the games here. It’s kind of what our mission has always been. Whatever we can do to give back for kids, that’s what we’re here for.

How does this event fit into the larger mission of SYS and its programming?

Our mission statement basically is providing a safe place to play, dream, grow and learn. Family Fun Day hits on all of those aspects. To me, SYS has become basically the recreational center or hub on the East End of Long Island. Pretty much soup-to-nuts it can be for a 3-year-old to a 93-year-old. We run the gamut from soccer to basketball to football to field hockey to squash — you name it, we can offer it. I don’t know what this community would do without it.

What’s up next for SYS in the coming winter season?

Our biggest is the basketball league. We have about 500 kids from Moriches to Montauk, with about 40 to 45 teams that compete between the grades of three and eight, with teams for third and fourth graders, fifth and sixth graders, and seventh and eighth graders. Teams come here by school district. It’s basically a travel league but we host all the games here. Archery is new for us, the Joy Dance Academy is new for us. They will continue this winter. They’ve both gotten off to rousing starts and it’s been terrific.

What’s the best way for people to access information about SYS?

They can visit us online at sysinc.org. All of our programming is on there. We’re here pretty much 106 hours a week and they can reach us via phone or email anytime.

Family Fun Day is planned for Saturday, November 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Southampton Town Recreation Center, 1370A Majors Path in Southampton. Proceeds of the event benefit the SYS Scholarship Fund. For more information, visit sysinc.org or call (631) 287-1511.