Parks and Rec summer programs still up in the air

  • Highlands Hurricanes swimming is on hold until the Rec Center pool reopens.
    Highlands Hurricanes swimming is on hold until the Rec Center pool reopens.

There is nothing the Highlands Park and Recreation Department can do about its summer programming right now except wait and see. 

“It all depends on what the governor decides to do on May 8,” said Highlands Park and Recreation Director Lester Norris on Monday. “Everything is up in the air until he makes a decision.”

Norris said, winter programs such as men’s basketball which were interrupted in March with the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and NC Governor Roy Cooper’s statewide shutdown, would not continue. 

“For sure men’s basketball is over,” he said. “All winter programs are finished for the year.”

As for summer programs like adult softball and the summer rec camp programs, it depends on what Governor Cooper decides.

“The Town of Highlands is following the governor’s directive in what we do to reopen,” Norris said. 

With venues like the swimming pool, gym  and playgrounds not expecting to open until sometime in July, Norris is concerned about opening summer programs like the Summer Rec Camp so late in the summer. 

“Staffing will be an issue,” he said. “I will have a hard time finding camp counselors because they won’t want to wait around until July to get paid.” 

Plus, after a spring and summer of home schooling and having kids at home, parents may be wanting their kids out of the house. 

“Our normal rec camp enrollment is about 50 kids, but with this starting after two months of being confined to home, enrollment my jump to 70-80 kids and we will for sure, be understaffed,” Norris said. 

Park and Rec staff are also considered a shortened summer softball season.  

With the opening of the Highlands pool not planned until July, Highlands Hurricanes Coach Steve Hott doesn’t know what the summer holds.

“Our plan is  we  have no plan,” he said Monday. “Right now, everything is on hold. USA Swimming canceled everything. Here, the swimming pool is closed indefinitely. There is no set date out there – It’s closed. We will start practice on the first day we’re allowed to.”

Hott said he will host a swim meet sometime after his team comes back to practice. 

“Will kids be out of shape? Yes, but the first rule of Highlands Hurricanes swimming is to have fun and we will have fun,” Hott said.

Hott added he has several swimmers who have already qualified for regional and national meets and at some point down the road, these swimmers will get an opportunity to swim.

“We’ll come back from this,” he said. “And these kids will get to swim.”