The 1974 Annual Report, prepared by the unnamed Playgrounds Director, discusses the successes of that year's program. Expansion of programming, including a mobile program, and the inclusion of senior citizens and those with cognitive disabilities, are noted as significant improvements for that year.

A typed document detailing the 1974 summer playgrounds report

Summer Playgrounds 1974

This report will cover the staff and staffing procedures, the programme, and an evaluation of Summer Playgrounds 1974.

This summer we employed a head staff of four (4) Area Co-ordinators, three (3) Specialists, and two (2) Teen Co-ordinators, as well as a complement of sixty Supervisors. The areas of responsibility were as follows:


A typed document detailing the 1974 summer playgrounds report

The programme serviced thirty-four (34) permanent sites and twenty-one (21) mobile sites. The permanent sites were divided into three approximately equal geographic areas with one Co-ordinator in charge of staff and activities in each area. The Mobile sites were serviced under the Direction of a Mobile Co-ordinator and a staff of five supervisors.

The three specialists, Arts and Crafts, Drama, and Sports, worked on a city-wide basis. Their main areas of involvement were: Sports Clinics, Field Days, Art Shows, a "Fiesta Day", an ecology programme and a series of seminars designed to upgrade the Supervisors and community groups in specialized Playground skills.

The two Teen Co-ordinators worked, one in each ward, with five regular sites each. The sites chosen were those which were normally visited by the greatest number of teens.

Advertising for summer staff began early in January. Presentations were made at every high school, Confederation College, Lakehead University, and the student placement office. Advertisements were placed with all the news media. Over 200 applicants were interviewed and 120 invited to a pre-selection workshop (March 30th) which was designed to test the participants for playground related skills. From this workshop a staff of 69 employees were hired and invited to a staff training session to be held during the last week of June.


The Playground Programme commenced on July 2nd and terminated August 30th, running five days a week. The Supervisors were encouraged to take as much of the responsibility as possible for programme content which was to be [cont'd] 

A typed document detailing the 1974 summer playgrounds report

developed along with the participants. In this way we created a greater degree of committment to the activities that each site undertook.

There were four city-wide events this year: an art show, field day, and ethnic fair, one in each area of specialization, as well as an opening day parade. Each Specialist was encouraged to form their own committees from the ranks of interested Supervisors to help plan and implement the activities in their respective areas. In this way the Supervisors were able to become more proficient in the specialized areas related to their interest. This also enabled us to identify potential head staff personnel.

The summer playground normally operated by the Lakehead Association of Mentally Retarded was cancelled this summer. In co-operation with this association, their participants were integrated into our normal sites.

In co-operation with the staff at Dawson Court, we operated a Senior Citizen Playground Programme this year for the first time. The programme encouraged the Seniors to take part in outdoor activities (i.e. horse shoes), as well as become involved with young people who were encouraged to visit the site on an ongoing basis.

Another area where new emphasis was placed this  year was on the Teen Programme. One Supervisor in the North Ward and one in the South Ward acted as co-ordinators to work with the Teens to develop programmes of particular interest to them. Camping trips, dances, an art show and visits to Dawson Court were held.

The Mobile system was expanded this year to service a greater number of sites on a part-time basis. As an extension of this system, volunteer groups were encouraged to come together in order to operate the playground on days [cont'd]

A typed document detailing the 1974 summer playgrounds report

when the Mobile staff was scheduled in other areas. The head staff organized a training session for the volunteers at Green Acres which enabled them to keep that site open five days a week. They also held training sessions for volunteers at Vale Community Centre and John Street housing complex to encourage ongoing activities for the children in those areas.

The major recommendations from last year was that we begin to adopt Adventure and Creative type playgrounds this summer. Adventure playgrounds require specialized equipment, i.e. logs, old tires, assorted scrap materials, which we feel must be accepted and developed by the Parks and Recreation Department on total. A meeting was arranged between the Thunder Bay "Creative Play" Group and administration to explore this avenue.

As Creative Play entails responding in a creative way to the environment at hand and involving the participants in the planning and execution of activities of their own choice, this we were able to promote to a greater degree. The Supervisors were involved in planning and running their training session and city-wide events and in turn were encouraged to involve their participants in the same way. One site responded creatively to a pile of brush that obstructed many normal play activities. The brush was used to create an imaginary village. Houses, flag poles, totem poles, streets and a village square were all developed from the materials at hand.

The participants, Supervisors, Head Staff, and co-operating agencies (LAMR, Dawson Court, Board of Education and Community Centres), were all given an opportunity to evaluate the summer's activities.

The response from the participants was for the most part very positive.A typed document detailing the 1974 summer playgrounds report

The only negative comments (i.e. more games, more sports) could possibly be eliminated by Supervisors exploring to a greater degree the wishes of their charges.

The Supervisors were generally agreed that the programme went very well. They were pleased with their training session, the large number of participants, and the few mandatory events and meetings. Some dissatisfaction was expressed with wages, wading pool responsibilities and restrictions requiring the presence of a Supervisor  on the site at all times during the open periods.

The Head Staff evaluated the programme, Supervisors, and themselves on a weekly basis throughout the entire summer. They were constantly trying to improve staff relationships and programme content. Some of their suggestions for next year were: a) a substantial increase in wages, b) all head staff to start on same date and receive same wages, c) turn wading pools over to Aquatics for supervision, d) supplies ordered early in new year, e) more office space and office set up before head staff hired, f) more staff hired to expand in the areas of Senior Citizens, Teens as well as Stock Clerk to deliver supplies.

Both the LAMR and Dawson Court were extremely pleased with the programme this summer. There is a request from Dawson Court that we expand the number of Senior Citizens sites for next year.

The Board of Education and Community Centres who supplied facilities were also generally satisfied that things went well. The few minor problems that did arise were dealt with immediately. Mr McKay of the Board of Education has requested that the playground participants not be allowed in the schools during the last two weeks of summer in order to allow these facilities to be cleaned properly before the school year begins.

A typed document detailing the 1974 summer playgrounds report

I personally feel that Playground '74' has been very beneficial to the more than 1500 participants, our staff, the Department and myself. We serviced more sites and participants than ever before, our staff and I were given the opportunity to grow and develop our leadership skills and the Department received a great deal of positive publicity.

This year we expanded the Mobile System which enabled us to serve areas, at least on a part time basis, that would not have otherwise been served due to lack of a facility, or remoteness from heavy populated areas. We expanded our service to include special programming for teens. This had a two fold effect: it eliminated many problems that arise on a normal site when a Supervisor is faced with trying to programme effectively for an age group of 5 to 18 years of age and at the same time encourage the teens to become involved in planning activities for themselves. By encouraging the integration of the Mentally Retarded with our normal sites, we provided an opportunity for the mutually beneficial intermingling of a group with special problems.

The emphasis placed on the training and involvement of volunteer parents in the actual operation of play sites for their children has great potential. It gives parents a better understanding of our programme, it provides an opportunity for parents to learn how to manage children better in play situations and also may allow us to expand the programme greatly without the additional staff requirements.

By including the Senior Citizens this year, we helped open many doors that some Seniors felt were closed forever. People played horseshoes, mini golf, croquet, and went on picnics with children for the first time in many many years. Young people had a chance to get to know and talk with interested [cont'd] 

A typed document detailing the 1974 summer playgrounds report

[cont'd from previous] Seniors, many for the first time.

I think that this year we truly lived up to the motto "Playgrounds Are for Everyone".

Next year I would suggest that the three area co-ordinators be in charge of all the activities in their respective areas. They should have a Teen Co-ordinator, a Mobile Co-ordinator, and a special group co-ordinator reporting to them. The Specialists should act as consultants on a city-wide basis, organize city-wide special events, organize their own committees, and organize training sessions for staff and community groups. There should also be a person hired to sort and deliver supplies to the various sites in the city. There should be three wage levels: a) the three co-ordinators and Specialists, b) the mobile, teen, and special group coordinators and stock delivery clerk, c) the supervisors.

[Diagram of staff reporting relationships]

Title: Summer Playgrounds 1974
Date: 1974
Creator: Playgrounds Director, Thunder Bay Parks and Recreation
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files (Administration, Parks, Community Recreation)
Location: TBA 5249-10


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