It had been a busy, hot, fun-filled summer. I had spent the majority of it covered in tempera paint, glue, glitter, bubble solution and sweat. But on this particular mid-August day, everything, every little hair, was perfect. I wasn’t bedecked in my typical garb – a school bus yellow “Summer Leader” t-shirt and shorts. Instead I wore a long, matte satin white gown, a delicate, fingertip length veil, and gloves. I felt like I’d stepped into a fairy tale, where dirt does not exist, the sky is always blue, and little birdies always join in when one bursts into spontaneous song.
(Well, that last part is true. I do burst into spontaneous song...regularly...but, not often with little birdies...)
As I made my way toward the front of the church, three little wide eyed faces grinned up at me. They were also scrubbed clean, standing beside their parents. Two darling little girls, and one very handsome little boy from my playground programs had asked to come, and I was delighted to invite them. This wasn’t the “Janna Banana” they were used to!
At the tea afterwards, the children from my playground program came up to speak with me. So determined were they to be well mannered that they were positively vibrating, trying to contain themselves. I suppressed my laughter and was in the process of kneeling down to their level to thank them for attending when all of a sudden my head was yanked violently to the left! And again! And again! Somewhere within my peripheral vision I could see the little boy yanking on my veil, nearly swinging from it, a very intense look in his eye.
“Bees, Janna Banana!! BEES!! There are BEES!!!” My little friend, the Exterminator, had noticed two confused little creatures crawl up beneath my veil in an attempt to pollinate the satin flowers of my headdress. And he had steeled himself to protect me, at all costs, even if it meant my dignity and a $75 hair do.
Rest assured, all ended well. He reluctantly released his grip on my veil, and the bees enjoyed a gentle catch and release fate. I had amazing balance, and managed to NOT fall flat on my face, and my coiffure was lacquered with enough hairspray that not even one hair had moved. In fact, I seem to recall that my hairdo remained firmly in place for several days, even after I’d removed the 150 hairpins that had also held it in place.
This is just one of many wonderful memories I have of my history with Parks, Recreation & Culture children’s programs. I began my career with Nanaimo PR&C in 1999. As a roving Playground leader, I travelled back and forth between two City of Nanaimo Playgrounds; Franklyn Street Playground (now a newly renovated and renamed community garden & play area, Pawson Park, at the corner of Franklyn Street and Machleary Street) and Ranchview Playground, in Cinnabar. Over the following two years, I was a Senior Leader at two different Summer Daycamp locations – Camp Kaleidoscope (now Bowen Explorers) and Camp Seaside, which was located at the Kin Hut in Departure Bay.
I have the privilege of knowing, first hand, how the quality programs offered in the summer through Nanaimo Parks, Recreation & Culture, many of them free or at minimal cost, made a difference in many a child’s life. Barring that very, very important fact, I know how they made a difference in my own life, as an employee. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my work...every hilarious, exhausting, endearing moment. Over the past decade, I can’t begin to count the number of times a self-assured young adult has waved to me on the street and yelled “Hi Janna-Banana!” And all at once I feel warm and fuzzy (and old, but that’s another blog post). I hope that I was a positive influence in their lives, through my endeavor to make their summer experience with Parks, Recreation & Culture memorable. I know that they certainly had that effect on me.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out the amazing summer programs that are offered through Parks, Recreation & Culture, there is still time to let your little one experience the fun, energy and creativity of one of our Summer Programs. Some of the options still available for August are the following;
• Full and partial Day Camps, which are loaded with a variety of activities and challenges, and often result in lifelong camper friendships. Register for the full week, or take advantage of our FlexReg option if only certain days of the week are needed, or if you need to work around a rotating shift schedule. Some to try? Look at Girls Get Active (6-10 years), Camp Holidaze (5-10years), Camp Wild (5-9 years), Cool Kids Skate (6-11years) or Adventure Sports Camp (8-12years) for a full day’s worth of fun!
• Playground Programs are designed for children ages 5-12, and are run on a drop in basis until August 24th. Come and stay on site, while your children enjoy FREE, supervised activities like arts & crafts, sports and games. This year, we have staff from Nanaimo Science & Sustainability Society (NS3) dropping by our locations each week to encourage scientific exploration through play! Come, bring a picnic lunch, and enjoy the warm afternoons while we still can. You’ll find these programs at Harewood Mining Community Water Park (Howard Avenue behind John Barsby School), Mansfield (Blythe Avenue), Deverill Park (which is also a water park! Halliburton Street), and Pawson Park (Franklyn Street).
Give Parks, Recreation & Culture a call at 250-756-5200, and speak to our staff about your summer fun options. Go and invest in some memory making. You’ll never regret time well spent.
Janna Logan works part time as a Clerk for the Business Services Department at Nanaimo Parks, Recreation & Culture. She's also a full time <air quote> Domestic Engineer <end air quote>, part time Home School Teacher, and, now, occasional Bloggess.