Youngsters, laughter fill days at Buhl Park again

Jul. 2—HERMITAGE — Despite the heat Tuesday morning, the elementary-aged children excitedly hurried into groups before starting different activities as instructors with Buhl Park's junior golf program offered words of direction and encouragement.

Some activities, such as stretches, passing soccer balls and practicing golf swings may have seemed unrelated, but Director of Golf and Fundraising Adam Scott said the exercises helped different aspects of a golfer's performance.

Aside from the junior golf program, the park also has its Operations 36 program. The program helps junior golfers improve their game by starting 25 yards away from the hole instead of the tee box, and progressively adding 25 yards as they improve.

As of Tuesday, Scott said there were about 100 children participating in the junior golf program, and that many children return to the park's famous, free "Dum Dum" nine-hole course with their families after attending the program.

"We see it all the time," Scott said. "Kids'll come back later in the day to play with their parents, and many of the parents played here when they were kids. It's a great thing to see."

Each golf program is eight weeks long, with more information available at, Scott said.

Tucked away elsewhere in Buhl Park, a group of more than 100 children with the park's summer youth program made crafts and played red rover, learning about the environment while spending some time outdoors, Director of Environmental Education Katie Nowland said.

Normally focused around the Sandy's Place education center, Nowland said this year's program is taking greater advantage of the outdoors, allowing children to spread out more. For COVID-19 safety, temperatures are taken and hand-washing stations are available.

However, the children were still excited to see the summer youth program return after last year's cancellation, both to see old friends made during previous years' programs and to finally be involved in something outside.

"Some kids said that even when they were allowed in school, they were stuck inside their classrooms all day and couldn't go anywhere or do anything," Nowland said.

The program is spread across six weeks, with each week focused on a different theme. In keeping with the current week's theme of "safety," Hermitage police officers and firefighters visited the children on different days, Nowland said.

For park visitors looking to get a break from the heat, Buhl Park's pool opened on Memorial Day weekend after remaining closed last year due to COVID-19.

On an average day, pool attendance ranged from 100 to 150 people, although hotter days could see as many as 200 swimmers, Director of Operations Ryan Voisey said.

"I don't think we're quite there yet, but we're on the cusp of where we were last season," Voisey said of pool attendance. "We've had a lot of people coming out, so it's nice to be open and available to the community again."

On certain days, children in the summer youth program are able to use the pool in the morning before opening the pool to the public. The pool's regular hours are noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Voisey said.

To get a membership, Voisey said people can visit and fill out a registration form, then bring their receipt to their first pool visit, where park staff will make a visitor's pass.

Those with difficulty accessing the internet can also fill out the form on-site, while Hermitage residents can receive a discount if they go through the Hermitage municipal building.

"I've talked with a lot of people now who have been coming to the pool since they were kids," he said.

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