One of the main summer-long children's programs in Madison moved to The Community Center in 2021 with the staff providing day-care supervision for hundreds of boys and girls on their summer break.
Called Madison Community Center OST (Out-of-School Time), the program is currently caring for 102 children, ages 5-12, on weekdays. According to youth coordinator Kaylee Winrow, the staff decided to cap the program's attendance at about 100 children, which mean they have a waiting list for any openings in the program.
Winrow said there is a manageable number of children for the group of 10 to 12 young adults who supervise them. Winrow said the aides are typically Dakota State University students who are majoring in elementary education or exercise science.
The center's day-care program operates from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. It started on May 24 and will last until Aug. 13. Winrow expects that many of the parents will want to keep their children in the program until mid-August, except for breaks for family vacations.
The children sign in each weekday from 7-8:30 a.m. and start with the day's activities. Winrow said the aides typically host reading activities before the lunch break that runs from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meals are provided through the Madison Central School District's free summer lunch program. In the afternoons, the children may visit a city park or the public library. On Mondays and Wednesdays, they play in the center's swimming pool from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
"We do try to go outdoors and do activities as much as possible," Winrow said.
On Friday afternoons, Lisa Martin, children's librarian at the Madison Public Library, visits the program and hosts activities and games. Winrow said the children also take breaks for morning and afternoon snacks.
Children participating are divided into three groups according to their ages. Those in the zebra group belong in kindergarten and first grade. The giraffe class is filled with children in grades 2-3, and the flamingo group is for grades 4 and up.
According to Winrow, the program organized special-events day camps during June and more day camps are planned in July. The day camp fees are set at $7 for members and $15 for non-members. Parents can sign up their children at The Community Center's front desk or online at the center's website.
Three camps are planned in July with pirate, ag-sector and emergency-responder themes. Winrow said the staff have filled the schedule with special activities -- centered on dinosaurs, outer-space and pirates.
"Each week so far this summer, we've had events with a different theme," Winrow said. This week's theme was the Hawaiian Islands.
The children have gone on trips to other communities, such as Brookings to visit the city's wellness center and Watertown to tour Bramble Park Zoo and Redlin Art Center. Winrow said the program has scheduled a trip to Sioux Falls to visit the Washington Pavilion Arts Center.