Norwich Recreation Department
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News: January/Town Report 2021

Date Published Author
3/2/2022 12:00:00 AM  Norwich Recreation 

Norwich Recreations programs were significantly affected by the global pandemic.  We suspended all person programs mid-March, and began meeting weekly check-in calls with a group of Recreation Directors, to coordinate our efforts.  Through these meetings, we gathered enough advice from the guests representing the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Vermont Parks and Recreation, and the Vermont Department of Health, to safely open our first in-person session in April.  We operated with lower numbers of participants, wearing masks, and with many protocols in place as indicated in our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines.
Summer camps opened in July, with the aid of a Vermont Restart Stipend that funded tents, personal protective equipment, sanitation staffing and all equipment needed to keep campers outside for the majority of their day with us.  Norwich Recreation camps were allowed to use the Marion Cross School facilities for our Naturalists, Sports (3-5th), Crafty Kids, Fables and Folklore, Trail Stewards and Good Life Camps. The camps served as a “pilot” for the re-opening of schools, with the Recreation Director advising the MCS Reopening Task Force.  Our Sports (6th-8th) camp had Tracy Hall gym as their home base, and we worked with Vermont Technical College and the Upper Valley Land Trust to host our MTB Stewards out of Brookmead, with a special contribution from the Norwich Farm Creamery.   Our Instructors and Counselors did a truly remarkable job this summer keeping children safe, and remaining attentive to the changing guidelines. 
This year required incredible flexibility when it came to our special events as well.  We were able to start our Youth Advisory Council, working with Norwich teenagers to respond to their concerns and recommendations for programming.  In the fall, they took on their first organized event, Tunes on the Trail, in partnership with King Arthur Baking.  This was a simple, yet well-attended music festival along the trail system at King Arthur, with musicians playing within the woods.  Weeks later, the Youth Advisory Council assisted Norwich Recreation in organizing a Halloween event as an alternative to the large community events normally held in the town.  We used the Milton Frye Nature Area’s new outdoor classrooms to host organizations and committees from Norwich as they distributed candy to families walking through on an organized schedule.  Representatives from the Marion Cross School, the Lions Club, the Norwich Public Library, the Energy Committee, King Arthur Baking, the Norwich Women’s Club and the Norwich Fire Dept & Support Team. Jake and Ann Guest from Kildeer Farm donated 50 pumpkins for people to bring home. The pumpkins left over were in turn donated to Hogwash Farm to feed their livestock.  The event served 227 Norwich residents with music, candy and our NorWitchy spirit.
Fall sports continued with heightened protocols and lower numbers.  We were able to provide youth and adult soccer, mountain biking, trail running, and baseball.  We were not able to use the Marion Cross gym once school opened, so we tried something new and held a session of outdoor basketball. 
We opened two new online programs – Norwich Nailed It was an online community cooking competition that ran for 6 weeks, had 57 participants, and partnerships with King Arthur Baking, Pete & Gerry’s Eggs and Norwich Farm Creamery.  Winners each week would receive a hand painted gold mixing spoon, a gift card to a local business and a small celebratory item.  We will repeat this program in January, adding in Cabot Creamery as a partner. The prizes and format will change as well.  Our other online program provided people with activity bags that contained everything needed to recognize and celebrate interesting holidays over the holiday break.
Overall, this was a year of considerable challenges, and Norwich Recreation had to be creative and flexible.  The community responded with gracious resilience, as always.