PEPPERELL -- Pepperell's Summer Playground program ended earlier this month after nearly eight weeks of theme days, games, sports and arts and crafts.

Summer Playground Director Michael Savard said that although attendance was slightly down from past years, the children enjoyed the program and new activities were well received.

"The kids that came consistently seemed to really enjoy it," Savard said.

Attendance this year usually averaged 75 to 85 children, down from closer to 100 in the recent past.

Summer Playground instated weekly theme days, including a sports day and a U.S.A. day. He said that these were some of the most popular days.

"We also did a schedule. Every day the kids would go to a creative game, a sport and an art project in the morning, and then after that they'd be able to choose which activity they liked to go back to for the rest of the day," Savard said.

Some of the most popular activities were capture the flag and gold rush, where students had to find hidden rocks that were spray-painted gold. They could then exchange the rocks for currency to trade in for prizes.

Field trips to the movies and laser tag, he added, were a fun way of breaking up the schedule.

Savard said one of his favorite activities was when members of the Pepperell Police Department came to play Cal Ripken Quickball with the kids. He explained the sport as a faster-paced version of baseball that allows all of the kids to be involved.

"You're constantly moving, so kids aren't just sitting in left field picking flowers," he said.

Giving students a connection with members of the police department was a key part of the activity.

"The kids really like seeing police officers from the community wearing civilian clothes and just having a good time with them. I think it's important for them to see them in a different light," he said.

Summer recreation programs are a valuable way of keeping kids busy through the summer in a safe and productive environment, said Savard.

"It keeps them having some structure during their days. They get to get out and see friends and people that they wouldn't typically see. Kids who don't attend might just be hanging inside or hanging with one or two friends and they don't get the exercise they need," Savard said.

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