Denison will open enrollment for its new summer camp program, aimed at children ages 5 through 12, this Friday. While primarily focused on youth, city officials said the program would also serve as another form of childcare throughout the summer season.

“Projected to launch summer 2019, Denison DREAM campers will explore STEM activities, learn new sports, participate in creative projects, develop friendships and learn about the community,” city staff said in documents created for the council meeting. “Denison DREAM Camp presents the perfect opportunity for youth to jump into a summer adventure and create long-lasting friendships.”

City officials said the DREAM Camp stands for discover, recreation, education, adventure and memories. The program will see campers engage is science and technology lessons, sports, themed weeks, and day trips among other activities across two, four-week sessions. The hours for the program will run from around 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. to allow for the work schedule of most parents, she said.

“I wanted to share how proud I am of Team Denison and the Parks and Rec department and library department that helped pull this program together for this summer,” Community and Development Services Director Kimberly Murray said during a recent Denison City Council meeting.

Murray said Denison has looked at ways to make the program affordable to Denison families. Enrollment in the program is expected to cost $400 for the first child in a family for Denison residents, with an additional cost for non-residents. For additional children, the city is proposing a cost of $350 per child for residents.

The city previously offered a week-long, half-day camp through the public library and parks and rec in recent years, but Murray said the new program would be more extensive and be held throughout the day rather than just a portion of it.

Murray said the program would be competitive with other options for summer childcare, but noted that it might be more expensive than some options, including the local Boys and Girls Clubs.

Ron Nixon, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Denison said summer prices typically range between $30 per week, for children on free or reduced lunch, to $60 per week. However, the organization has many scholarship opportunities that can cover some or all of that cost, he said. The club also has a separate center specifically for youths age 13 or older that does not charge fees, he said.

A representative for the Boys and Girls Club of Sherman declined to comment for this story.

Denison Parks and Recreation Director Justin Eastwood said the program would primarily use the Denison SNAP Center as its chief location. Parks and Rec staff that previously used the SNAP Center for office space have since moved to the new Denison City Hall. City officials previously discussed the possibility of using the freed up space to transition the traditionally senior center into more of a community center.

Despite having its origins with the parks and library programs, Murray said the city will be partnering with other organizations for the camp. As an example, Murray said the Denison Independent School District will be providing transportation services, and will offer its summer lunch program through the camp.

The discussions of the new program came as the council heard a request to amend city standards of care for recreation programs. The new amendment set a cap at 12 students per staff, but Murray said the program would likely operate closer to 10 students for each staff member.

The program first saw life soon after Murray was hired by the city in early 2018. Through the new camp program, Murray said she wanted to augment the other youth programming that is put on by Denison and its partners throughout summer.

“My experience with communities is that the parks and recreation department often plays a role in summer programming,” she said.

The Sherman Parks and Recreation Department recently offered a STEM class exploring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for students between the ages of 10 and 13, but that was a one-hour long weekly class that will wrap up later this month.