ENCINITAS — Have you ever wanted to learn the ukulele or take up golf? Those are two of many options available in 2019 through the Encinitas Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.
The department just released its winter guide, with classes, sports leagues, concerts and other offerings listed for all age groups — from pre-schoolers to seniors. Non-residents can also sign up for programs and pay a slightly higher fee than Encinitas residents.
Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Campbell stated in writing, “As a Department, we hope that our residents’ and visitors’ quality of life is enhanced by the programs, services and facilities that we offer in the community.”
Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she’s “proud of the diversity of offerings” that provide “enriching experiences.” She added, “These programs are an important reflection of our spirit here in Encinitas.”
Campbell explained that the city has hosted programs for “people of all ages, interests and abilities” since Encinitas incorporated in 1986.
New this season is the Sweetheart’s Ball at the Encinitas Community Center on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. Featuring dancing for all ages, light appetizers, refreshments and photo backdrops, the department staff urges people to not be “bashful” and to “share the fun” at the ball.
Sports leagues and clinics are separated into children and adult age groups, and this season include basketball, golf, volleyball, soccer (youth only), co-ed kickball (adults only), surfing and skateboarding (youth only).
Prices run the gamut, with some courses for seniors, like Computer Lab and Silver Age Yoga, offered for free. A package of four Saturday surf clinics, for instance, costs $200 total, while the Advanced Care Planning class taught by registered nurses costs $21 for two sessions. Tickets for the Music by the Sea concert series are $14 each.
Campbell said that 71 percent of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department’s revenue stems from program proceeds. The department — which has 20 full-time, two part-time and 47 contract employees — currently operates off of a budget of roughly $5.8 million.
Programs for “tiny tots” ages 2 and older include a class called Family Hula, Tahitian and Maori Dance as well as Ready, Set, Sing and Connecting the Generations through Music, which aims to bond children with their parents or grandparents via musical activities.
Children ages 5 to 12 are invited to participate in activities this winter like the Seaside Day Camp — a popular program that’s been offered during school breaks for more than 30 years — and beginner karate. Teenagers can learn cooking, ballet, acting, leadership skills, babysitter safety and more.
Campbell said the most popular classes for seniors are Duplicate Bridge and various types of yoga workshops, while Pilates ranks among the top choices for adults. She described the Encinitas Junior Lifeguards program, which launched in 1990 and will be available again this summer, as “somewhat of a rite of passage for many Encinitas kids.”
“Over the years as the city has grown,” Campbell wrote, “the Department has remained attentive to the interests and needs of the community, creating new programs and adding to existing ones. A couple great examples are the many incredible classes and programs held at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center (which opened in 2002), and the introduction of programs like Encinitas Beach Kids, which provides a similar experience to Junior Lifeguards but catered to the younger age group.”
Regardless of age, well-being experts advocate for exercise and trying new things — two potential reasons to consider signing up for Encinitas’ programs. Exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, boost energy and mood, maintain strong muscles and bones, reduce stress and provide other benefits. And trying new things may just be the spark needed to break through boredom and get inspired in the new year.
The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Guide gets mailed quarterly to Encinitas residents and is available electronically on the department’s website, www.EncinitasParksandRec.com. People can also pick up a copy at the Encinitas Civic Center, Encinitas Community and Senior Center, and at the Encinitas and Cardiff libraries.