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'The sky’s the limit': registration opens for winter recreation programs

2022-11-03 Lam, Hargraves-3.jpg
Hargraves Community Center in Chapel Hill. Photographed on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.

The Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department has kicked off registration for upcoming winter recreation programs, from rock climbing to lantern making.

Registration for Chapel Hill’s programs opened on Nov. 1 for Orange County residents and Nov. 3 for non-residents. These events will run from December to February and range from outdoor excursions to art classes. While some activities are drop-in, most require registration beforehand. 

Individuals can register on-site at different activity locations such as the Chapel Hill Community Center or on the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation website.

“The programs are individual registration,” Lizzie Burrill, recreation supervisor for the Town, said. “Most of them are sign-up ahead of time. There are a few where you don't have to sign up, like the tutoring programs at Hargraves — that’s free.”

The Town has a financial assistance program for those who want to participate but might not be able to afford the cost of activities. People can apply to get reduced fees, and financial assistance is provided based on income and the number of people within the household.

One of the department's most popular events is Webster’s Rock the Hill — the longest running indoor rock-climbing competition in the U.S. In addition to hosting the longstanding event, Chapel Hill is also home to a historic rock wall monument. 

“This year, we’ll be celebrating 34 years on the oldest standing rock wall in the country,” Keith Dodson, assistant recreation supervisor for the Town, said.

Intricate planning goes into the event. Located at the Chapel Hill Community Center, the rock wall is redesigned for the event each year, and a certified route setter from USA Climbing is brought in to oversee the rerouting. 

There are four divisions for climbers: youth, recreation, intermediate and open. The event begins on Feb. 18 and its final competition will be held on Feb. 25, when the top three male and female climbers from each division will compete for the top prize.

“We will have over $5,000 in prizes and merchandise for the winners,” Dodson said. 

He encouraged anyone interested in climbing to participate. No prior experience is required and inexperienced climbers can start in the recreation division.

In addition to Webster’s Rock the Hill, there are three day trips planned for youth and teen participants. 

“We'll be going out to Appalachian Ski Mountain for a snowboarding day,” Burrill said. “We're going to go up to Hawksnest Mountain for snow tubing and also go out to the Greensboro Science Center and do their ropes course.”

An important part of the winter recreation programs is adapted recreation, which is made up of programs designed to fit the needs of individuals with disabilities. Marian Kaslovsky said she has been the coordinator of adapted recreation for 16 years and has seen the programs evolve significantly in that time span.

“They really deserve to be part of the community and we hope to have them be part of the community in as many ways as possible," she said. 

Registration for the adapted recreation programs is available on-site and online as well. These groups tend to be smaller, so slots for activities fill up faster, Kaslovsky said.

In addition to individual opportunities, there are also adapted recreation programs available for families. She said she is often contacted by parents to ensure activities best fit their children’s needs and abilities. 

“What has always been my favorite is Friday Fun Night, which is a drop in program for both kids and adults with disabilities and their families at the Chapel Hill Community Center,” Kaslovsky said. “It's on the first Friday of the month.”

A lot of these activities rely on volunteers. Kaslovsky said anyone interested in helping out should contact her at the Center. 

“We are often in need of instructors to teach exercise, swimming, theatre and more. The sky’s the limit," Kaslovsky said in an email. 

@DTHCityState | 

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