KALISPELL - There are lots of after school daycare facilities across the Flathead Valley but it can be particularly difficult for parents to find a place for their kids during winter break.
Kalispell Parks and Recreation has been helping parents out this week while at the same time letting kids have fun. Parks and Rec runs an after-school program throughout the school year but they also have special camps for weeks like this when parents may be at work and their kids have no school.
“So, it’s about 2½ half hours after school program and this one is about 10 hours. So, it’s a lot different. There’s a lot more activities planned. Mostly we do field trips just to get them out and we do lots of games and crafts. It’s a little more organized because there’s a lot more time,” says camp counselor Maddie Boyd.
One of those field trips that the kids got to do on Wednesday was to tour the Kalispell Fire Department to see what a day in the life of a firefighter is all about. KFD paramedic Doug Schwartz says it’s nice to make a connection with the youth in the Flathead Valley.
“It just kind of allows us to make a connection with kids that’s harder to do as people get busy and older and things aren’t as interesting to people anymore. Kids are really fascinated by the fire trucks and the station and the people here. So, it’s kind of nice to capitalize on that excitement,” Schwartz said.
Not only do the firefighters let the kids play with their toys but they teach them about fire safety as well.
“We like to leave them with a good message for fire safety. Just to kind of get that seed planted in their heads that hopefully down the road kind of keep them thinking about the things to do to keep them safe and preventing the things that are easily preventable,” Schwartz told MTN News.
The fun didn’t stop there at the fire department on Wednesday. The kids headed back to Elrod Elementary School to have lunch time and some recess in the gym before heading outside to have a snowman making competition.
During weeks like this, Boyd says it is nice that the camp can give some parents a bit of relief while they’re at work.
“Everyone tries to get it off for the holidays and when they can’t it’s just really special that we have a program like this to help people like that because it’s really difficult to find stuff like childcare during the holidays,” said Boyd.
Not only is the camp convenient for parents but a great experience for the kids too.
“I think that they just really enjoy being able to have a free time away from parents and all that family stuff and it really makes it a lot better environment when there’s a lot more kids and the kids are just way happier, they listen better," Boyd said. "It’s awesome I think they really enjoy it."
Folks can sign up for the camp the day before they want to send their kids.