Nestled in the woods of Depew Park in Peekskill is the Creative Pre-School, which has been run by the City of Peekskill’s Department of Parks and Recreation for more than 30 years, but still remains a secret to much of the community.
Four years ago the school upgraded from the basement of the to the rustic and inspirational environment alongside nature trails and the pool in in what was formerly a nature center. For this summer’s Creative Pre-School camp, co-directors Vicki Turco and Dana Dapson have worked hard to create a homey, nurturing atmosphere that incorporates the surrounding nature for the three to five year old children to learn.
The summer program is designed to engage its 16 kids in outdoor activities like sports games in the fields and hikes on the Depew Park trails. As the season progresses each child will be given a bird whistle, water bottle and their own backpack to explore the many forest trails. Children will also swim and have barbeques as part of the camp experience. Co-directors Turco and Dapson are warm and attentive to their campers and strive to keep the children engaged with each other and their activities.
But as lovely as the camp and preschool is, Turco and Dapson struggle each year to spread the word about their program. This summer’s program is filled to capacity of 16 kids, but last year’s class was only 14 kids and the year before only 7.
“We have a lot of competition and the city started offering free pre-K so we lose kids to that,” Turco said. “But it is a great program. It is small so it is intimate, and we are really laid back. It is all about hugs and love, like sending the kids to mom’s house for school.”
The school year program follows the Peekskill City School District academic calendar. It costs $220 a month for the four-day program, from 9 a.m. -12 p.m., for residents of Peekskill. The cost for non-residents is $440 a month.
The summer camp began on June 27 and runs until August 4 and is already full. But to sign up your pre-schooler for the next academic year contact the Parks and Recreation Department. If you register now you pay a portion of the registration fee (under $100) and have the rest of the summer to pay the remainder of the fee – first and last month’s cost ($440 for residents, $880 for non-residents). School starts on September 12, 2011 and runs through June 2012.
For more information contact the