“As we plan and develop the activities of the Waverly Community House, keeping in mind the importance of laying the right foundation for the children and young adults, we cannot go far astray. We wish to help them through wholesome activities to become keener mentally and sound morally.” (Gertrude Coursen, 1930)
As September approaches, we are reminded that the start of the traditional school year is beginning. With that in mind, we thought it fitting to explore how the Waverly Community House has not only been innovative with regards to their educational programs, but with their recreational activities as well. The Comm has always been dedicated to holding both instruction and leisure hand in hand with the intention of guiding the younger generations towards developing into balanced and well rounded individuals. Special activities and clubs have always been prevalent and the Comm has consistently served as a gathering space for children and young adults to enjoy themselves and interact with one another. As we explore some of the earlier recreational programs, it becomes evident that the Waverly Community House remains dedicated to making these opportunities available to children and adolescents in the form of various programs designed to enhance physical and mental development.
In the 1920’s-1950’s, the most popular youth programs at the Comm included a number of different activities; most were designed and created by Community House staff with the intention of accommodating a number of different interests. A quote from the 1929 Clubs and Classes Bulletin indicates this as follows: “You may find that there is a wide variety of activities that are scheduled at the Waverly Community House. This is necessary in order to meet the needs of many different individualities.” Recreational programs on this list included:
High school basketball: The Comm opened the doors of its gymnasium to allow Waverly High School use of its facilities for both practices and home games. Basketball practices often took place on evenings during the week and games were very well attended; there were also tournaments held at the Comm for fun. The basketball schedule was posted in the Lobby; this activity continued into the 1950’s.
Boys & girls game hour: Games played during this time included cards and ping pong, among others. During this time the Canteen would serve hot dogs and many other snacks for the children to enjoy.
Storytelling: Storytelling hour was most often attended by younger children on Saturday mornings; during this time, children would gather around Gertrude Coursen and various other special guests and enjoy the readings of different books. This was very similar to the Comm’s current Storytime offered in the Family Room.
Acting club: The Acting Club was primarily designed for high school students and often culminated with a production, much like the All about Theatre program offered today. Productions held by the Comm’s Acting Club included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Blame it on Sandy, and many others.
Folk dancing: Irish Folk dancing was popular among high school girls and was considered by all as a form of physical education. It was primarily taught by an instructor from Scranton with costumes designed by Mary Brooks Picken from the Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences; productions and festivals were held at Nay Aug Park.
Sewing: Sewing class took place on Tuesday afternoons at 3 pm in the Scout Room; girls from ages 15-17 enjoyed making items such as dresses and embroidered garments under the direction of instructor Cora Carpenter.
Physical education class: Physical education was considered to be very important for teenagers and classes were held in the auditorium; tumbling, baseball, wrestling, boxing, balancing and singing all made the list of designated activities suited to serve as adequate exercises.
Camping/ hiking club: This club was formulated with the intention of making outdoor recreational opportunities available to young adults. It was well received among both boys and girls and many camping and hiking trips took place during the spring and summer months. Popular locations visited included Lake Tingley near Harford and Camp Archbald in Susquehanna County.
As demonstrated with the above list, the clubs and classes at the Comm revolved around a number of different interests and needs; they were also at full capacity on a monthly basis as many local adolescents looked forward to enjoying themselves outside of the traditional school setting. It also gave them a chance to interact with many of their existing friends and to also form new relationships as well. Ultimately, the Waverly Community House provided recreational opportunities in the form of a unique, safe, and comforting setting and was very popular among both children and parents. Although some of those particular programs may not still be in use, the Comm has many current activities designated for children to enjoy outside of their traditional school atmosphere. These include but are not limited to: Comm Camp, art classes, dance camps and classes, and many others.
One of the Comm’s latest developments is the Comm Kids After School Program. This program focuses on providing children with a dynamic,safe, and entertaining setting to attend after school; under the direction of a talented and dedicated staff, local children interact with their friends, do their homework, and participate in fun projects and activities. It is also state licensed and serves as a full fledged child care center which corroborates with the Comm’s mission to “enrich the lives of individuals and families in the region by providing educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities.” The Comm Kids After School program is relatively new however it has become very popular for parents seeking to supply their children with a safe place to gather during after school hours. This program is one of many new demonstrations of progress that the Comm has made over the years in order to keep up with the current needs of the community it serves.
As previously discussed, the Waverly Community House has continued to evolve and develop to suit the current needs of the community. The Comm is unique in its ability to do so while remaining dedicated to its mission statement created in 1920. As we approach the centennial anniversary, these past programs reflect and complement new activities with the same purpose and meaning with the needs of the community at the forefront of all operations. For more information on the Comm Kids After School Program, you can find the registration form on our website.