Registration is now open for West Virginia University (WVU) Campus Recreation’s Kid’s Night Out series. The opportunity provides local children fun evening activities while their parents can have their own getaway.
Kid’s Night Out takes place on select Fridays during the Spring semester from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Dates for this semester include January 27, February 24, March 24 and April 21.
Victoria Hoover, the operation coordinator of WVU Campus Recreation Youth Programming, said the unique program was created as an effort to expand the department’s offerings for children. The series first was offered in Fall 2019.
“Parents and children have given tons of positive feedback about the program,” said Hoover. “Kiddos leave with smiles on their faces after having gotten some good exercise, shared a giggle or two, made a crafty creation, learned something new like how they can help save the planet, and hopefully having met a new friend or two.”
Hoover said these Friday nights throughout the semester provide parents free time to their selves. The series allows them to not feel guilty that they left their children at home.
Details and Programming
Hoover said each Kid’s Night Out event has a special theme. The group games, activities and crafts go along with that night’s theme.
The two main offerings of the series are gross motor activities and crafts opportunities to enhance physical and mental well-being.
“Gross motor activities take place in the gym court space,” Hoover said. “These have ranged from a variety of different types of relay races, carnival-like game/activity stations, obstacle courses, team-building activities, various tag-like games, a snowball battle with artificial snowballs and parachute play just to list a few.”
Craft activities take place in a WVU Campus Recreation classroom. There, children can create an alien spaceship, paint ceramic pumpkins, make a handprint plate with their name on it, design a thankful tree, form a kindness flower and plant a mini terrarium.
“We often include reading a story to complement the theme and have an interactive mini lesson to help enhance the learning piece where children can share their input and ideas,” said Hoover. “We have also done ‘minute-to-win-it’ type games and calmer activities in the classroom when it gets closer to pick-up time.”
A routine evening at KNO will begin with free time in the gym as children are being dropped off. Then, rules and expectations are stated before the planned program begins. Upon leaving, participants are given themed goodie bags.
Registration is $30 per child, and the series is only available for ages 5-12.
Benefits and Advice
Hoover said if other campus rec departments are thinking of starting a similar program, WVU Campus Rec recommends to first plan the number of activities you want to offer. They also ask children to bring a refillable water bottle and for parents to send another snack and drink.
“This will allow the opportunity to adjust to make sure the event runs smoothly and to be able to try a different activity if one doesn’t seem to be as engaging as you hoped,” said Hoover. “Having a basic shell schedule is a good idea.”
The intended benefits of the program are twofold: to provide an encouraging and affordable alternative to having a babysitter for the night, and to also create extra revenue for WVU Campus Rec.
“Parents always ask when they can register for the next event,” said Hoover. “We also get lots of comments that the kiddos chatted non-stop on the way home about what a great time they had, or that they passed out right away on the way home in the car.”
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