Town needs to catch up with the needs of families and expand summer programs

To the Editor:
I will never forget what it is like to be the parent of a young child, while working full time and taking care of my aging mother. During the school year, it was challenging enough, but during the summer, it was even more stressful.

Summertime should be a time for relaxation for our kids, but also for enrichment. Finding a spot for your child during the summer so you can work and provide for your family, and your child can have some fun and enrichment is difficult to say the least.

Everyone knows about the summer slide, the tendency of kids while on summer break to lose a certain amount of the knowledge their teachers and parents work so hard to impart to them during the school year. One way to reduce summer slide is through summer enrichment programs.

The town of Guilderland has a very popular summer camp program and swimming programs. I remember learning to swim at Tawasentha pool many years ago. I remember making friendship bracelets and other crafts.

But surprisingly, despite the changing times, the summer camp program is still only a half-day. When my son was little, I was dismayed and yes, stressed, that even though I have been a long-time resident and taxpayer, my own child could not attend the town of Guilderland summer programs because there was no full-day option.

I know that I was not the only parent struggling to find a good summer program for my kid. Unfortunately, it is commonplace and a rite of passage for parents these days to be stressed trying to find good summer programs for their kids.

You must start early, researching availability and the right program for your child, and sign up right away before they fill up. Make sure you get all the paperwork, waivers, and health forms submitted. Then you must figure out transportation, picking up, and dropping off. It’s not easy.

Families these days are under more and more pressure due to the cost of everything: health insurance, housing, gas, food, and childcare. Most families have two parents who work outside of and inside the home. Some of us have grandparents who can help, while other families are sandwiched between raising young children and taking care of aging or ill parents. Parents these days are juggling work and parenting all the time.

The town of Guilderland needs to catch up with the needs of the families that reside in our town and expand its summer programs to include a full-day option. There is a great unmet need in this town for affordable summer programs for all our kids.

The current situation is a bit out of step with modern life. Half-day programs serve only some families. Many families cannot send their kids to the excellent programs run by our town because both parents work, or they are a single-parent family or the grandparents are not able to help out, which is a shame and not fair.

These programs should be available to all our families. All of our kids should all have the chance to make friends, play games, maybe learn a new skill and have fun in our own town parks.

A quick search of the websites for our neighbors in the towns of Bethlehem, Colonie, and Clifton Park show that these towns already have full-day options, and even extended care.

If you feel like I do, that the town of Guilderland should expand our summer programs to include a full-day option, then please let me know. The more support there is for this idea, the better chance we have of making it a reality. You can contact me at .

Christine M. Napierski

Guilderland Town Council

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