Debbie Skinner

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debbieskinner

By Mara Certic

Debbie Skinner, the director of the Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor, discussed some free summer events coming to town soon.

So what new and exciting things are going on at the Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor?

Well the newest thing is that we’re launching a new website on Thursday, and the address is yrcsagharbor.org. So now it should be easy for people to download permission slips, calendars of events and cancellations will be on there, if the weather is a problem. It’ll be a place for people to know what’s going on. So that’s new for us and we’re excited about.

So school’s out for summer… what will you be doing for the next few months?

So what’s next is that we’re going to start up the beach program for the 17th summer—and I’ve done all 17 of them—on Monday night, June 29. And it’ll be free again! Last year, after the merger, there were a lot of situations that had to be resolved and that cost money. Now the situation’s been resolved, and we’re able to offer the program at no charge to everybody—all kids who have completed the sixth grade, through 18.

How does the beach program work?

One of the greatest things I think about the program is that kids from our community have the opportunity to meet other kids who are guests of ours in Sag Harbor during the summer, and I like that. I think it’s a nice blend of kids. They go to all different schools, from all different states and we get a lot of different countries, and they come down and forge friendships on the beach. The next day, they meet at the ocean. It’s nice for them, and I think it’s really nice for the kids who come here. It’s not as easy to entertain that age group, and this is a nice opportunity for them to make friends and do something in the evenings so they don’t have to watch awful summer TV. We look at the summer kids as our guests in Sag Harbor. We host them here and we enjoy meeting them and we love watching the new friendships that take place down there. That’s, I think, one of the best things about the whole thing.  So, as with every other year, we’re keeping the dates to Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings and we’ll keep the hours of 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., starting on June 29, down at Long Beach. And the ice cream man will be there, and we have a lot of events. We have a youth advisory board that meets over the winter, and they’ve come up with a lot of the events for the beach program.

What are some of the events to look forward to?

Off the top of my head, we have nights where it could be flag football, basketball tournaments, it could be entertainment companies—sometimes we’ll get water slides or inflatable bungee runs or a water tank. But we also have nights where we might have telescopes down there and we look at the stars. We have a lot of different competitions and music and we hope to have a couple of DJs over the course of the summer. In the past we’ve had bands. But sometimes one of the things they just love the most is sitting on the chairs and just watching the sun go down. They love just sitting around and talking among themselves.

How is the program supervised or chaperoned?

Our chaperones, most of whom will be returning this year, tend to be college-age kids. And a lot of them are lifeguards—even though there is absolutely no swimming allowed at the beach nights, it’s nice to know that there are lifeguards around. And they’re all trained in CPR.

How has Youth Resource Center evolved over the past 17 years?

This is the 17th year of the beach program. It was the very first thing we started and it’s kind of like our keystone program. Since YARD merged with the youth center and there really is no brick and mortar youth center at the moment, we’re kind of like a moveable youth center. We do different programs in different locations and at the summer we do that down on Long Beach. In many ways it hasn’t changed in 17 years. What I’ve noticed is that as kids age out of the program, and I see them, it’s always with a fond memory that they talk about the beach program.

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