The Youth Bureau has been a buzz since spring! Our talented and creative staff pushed through the many obstacles still present with the pandemic and successfully provided youth services, camps, inclusion services, swimming at Cass, bike rentals, outdoor adventures, support and placement for teens in employment, traveled with youth to new places and shared new experiences all summer long. The best part about the summer was the joy, smiles and laughter we heard and saw from the children in our programs and their families. New friendships blossomed and old ones got stronger. Youth thoroughly enjoyed being with one another again.
As we head into fall and winter programming, we continue to be vigilant with mask wearing and social distancing to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our young participants. We continue our commitment to developing programming in a new creative way that invites all people in our community to learn, explore and experience; that ensures safety; that challenges us all to expand our knowledge around race, equity and inclusion, and that foster the health and wellness of everyone. We look forward to seeing you this fall and winter.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the Friends of the Ithaca Youth Bureau (FIYB) has allocated more than $65,000 for Ithaca Youth Bureau program areas. These funds came from donations from community members, said Jeff Love, president of the FIYB board.
These funds have supported Recreation Support Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, camp scholarships, the College Discovery Program, Outings, the Paul Scheurs Memorial Program, recreation scholarships, and youth development. FIYB also manages the gifts made for the Cass Park Arena Enclosure Campaign.
In addition, the FIYB allocated $5,000 for IYB staff to provide to families with emergency needs in spring 2020. FIYB and IYB also collaborated with the United Way when $110,000 was contributed in early summer 2020 to reopen the IYB, which had been closed in late spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are grateful for the Friends of the IYB,” said Liz Klohmann, Ithaca Youth Bureau director. “Year after year FIYB board members volunteer their time and resources to raise support for Youth Bureau programs. Their contributions ensure that valuable youth services are available for our young people. On behalf of Youth Bureau families and staff, thank you!”
FIYB is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the Ithaca Youth Bureau provide recreation and youth development programs that promote the health, happiness, and well-being of all youth and families in the greater Ithaca area. To learn more, to donate, or to volunteer, visit friendsiyb.org.
Outings, an outdoor adventure program for youth, had a very exciting summer! Our Explorers Program, for sixth to ninth graders, gathered for four weeks and then took a five-day primitive camping trip.
This was the first summer with a brand-new group of youth. We focused on getting to know each other, building a healthy well-rounded group dynamic, and forging lasting bonds through trust and adventure activities. During the weeks leading up to the trip, students canoed, hiked, biked, tree climbed and prepared for camping trip.
For many of the youth in our program, this was their very first camping experience and first time being away from home. The group camped in the Finger Lakes National Forest and took day trips to Pine Creek Gorge, Chimney Bluffs State Park, Fair Haven Beach, and Darien Lake. They practiced primitive camping skills, cooking skills and water collection and learned to seek out each other out for help and support.
The Paul Schreurs Memorial Program (PSMP) gathered in person this summer for activities and a trip to Washington D.C. and Hershey Park. Students in the program visited area business, went swimming, learned about nutrition and cooking, practiced yoga and participated in team building activities with the Cornell Outdoor Education program. Seventeen students traveled to Washington D.C. where they visited the National Air and Space Museum in Maryland, monuments and the Baltimore aquarium and zoo.
This school year, the program is offering homework club at Ithaca High School and continuing its work in the community, including partnering with Ithaca College’s physical therapy program to learn more about this potential career path. Student will also be meeting on Saturdays for further career exploration and team building. The program is designed to provide academic, personal, emotional, and social support by promoting relationships and offering programs that inspire underrepresented youth in our community to be successful confident life-long learner
Please join Big Brothers Big Sisters in welcoming our new match support specialist, Shasta Savage. Shasta grew up in the Ithaca community and spent much of her youth attending Youth Bureau programs. After graduating from high school and reflecting on the community mentors who supported her, Shasta pursued a college degree focused on social justice, human rights, youth development and resilience.
Through the purposeful, compassionate, trauma-informed approach taken in all that she does, Shasta honors the values of dignity, equity and inclusion. She is currently certified as a yoga teacher who offers accessible yoga, mindfulness and self-care classes. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors, eating delicious food and petting dogs! She is excited to begin her journey with the Big Brother Big Sisters Community.
High school students in the College Discovery Program (CDP) took a trip to the Adirondacks this past summer, which included rafting the Ausable Chasm, visiting Howe Caverns, a dinner-cruise on a Steamboat on Lake George and a guided tour of SUNY Cobleskill. This great trip would not have been possible without the effort and dedication of the CDP Boosters, headed by retired Ithaca teacher Dave Bock.
Many CDP students also had their first jobs this summer either through the IYB’s Youth Employment Service or Work-Force NY. Students worked as gardeners, pre-school aides, summer camp staff, the Sciencenter and more. When they were working or traveling, the students gathered with CDP staff for bowling, mini-golf, kayaking, swimming, shopping and tubing. Some students also helped to plant and maintain flower gardens and planters around the IYB.
Meet Amir, a Recreation Department Program Leader and team member since 2018. Amir is a talented creative who brings his passion for the arts to the Youth Bureau and its program participants.
He is recently taught 7-12 year-olds the fundamentals of Still Life and Gesture drawings. In this program, Amir taught participants new techniques, like shading and etching, encouraged them to practice and develop their observational skills, and introduced them to new drawing mediums like pastels and charcoals. One program participant said the class was his happy place, and another said they didn’t think they were an artist until taking the class with Amir. He is currently leading an abstract art class, and we look forward to hearing the students’ responses to the skills they learn and develop.
Amir is a great teacher whose enthusiasm for young people’s artistic development is evident in every session. Amir’s love of fine art, especially drawing, began at a young age, and he went on to study art at Ithaca College, which is where his appreciation for portraiture and abstraction developed.
The Youth Bureau isn’t the only place that recognizes Amir’s talents. Some of his artwork was shown at Ithaca College’s Handwerker Gallery, as well as a local art exhibition!
Not only does Amir have a talent in the visual arts, but he also plays guitar. Before YB staff went on furlough last year, Amir began a series of virtual guitar lessons, where he recorded a lesson that was uploaded to our YouTube channel. In addition to the guitar lessons he offers to the community, Amir has played as the lead guitarist in local bands at both the Ithaca Festival and Rock the Arts Festival.
Amir finds fine art to be a great source of inspiration and hopes that he can share that with Rec program participants. He knows there is a true and positive impact on the children and families that participate in Rec programming.
“I believe Rec Department staff are truly committed to making sure that the families that participate in our programming are afforded the best experience possible,” Amir said.
Please join us in celebrating Amir and the many talents he shares with the youth and families of the Youth Bureau!
We are excited to have you back in the pool! We missed everyone last summer and it has been a long road to get back in the water.
Did you know there is a national lifeguard shortage? Many lifeguards have not had the opportunity to update their certifications and any potential new guards have not been able to get certified due to very limited class offerings. At Cass Park Pool, we have been recruiting and training guards so that we can safely open this season. Some offerings may be limited due to staffing.
Pool hours have been difficult to map out due to lifeguard shortages and COVID protocols. According to NYS COVID guidelines, day camp and public pool use may not overlap. This means our weekday public swim hours will be 3:30 to 7 p.m. Weekend public swim hours will be 1 to 7p.m. Due to the lifeguard shortage and the COVID protocols required to run swim classes, we will likely be unable to offer lessons this season.
We do plan to offer lap swimming during public swim hours.
We anticipate opening at the first week of July and will announce our opening date on Facebook. Stay tuned for information about daily fees, season passes and scheduling your visit to the pool at www.casspark.org.
We have been busy planning for summer and are excited to have a fun filled season with exciting activities, camps and trips!
We are asking all of our families and participants to help us keep everyone safe by following the COVID protocols we continue to have in place. Because the COVID-19 vaccine is not available to many of our young participants yet, masks and social distancing are still required in our buildings and when programs are indoors. They are also required in certain circumstances when groups are together outside and unable to maintain social distance.
Unfortunately, masks are not optional at this time, even for adults and older children who are fully vaccinated in these situations. Despite the lifting of COVID protocols in many situations the Youth Bureau will continue to follow Tompkins County Health Department and CDC recommendations. The safety of our participant's, their families and our staff continue to be our priority. As with all things COVID please be aware that things are subject to change as needed. We appreciate your patience and support!