If you want to get outside this summer, but don’t know how to get started, look no further than the Everett Parks and Recreation department’s Summer Guide, which just came out this week.
Packed with classes, day camps and one-time adventure opportunities, it’s a harbinger of sunnier times and one of the best tools families in Snohomish County could ask for when planning for June, July and August.
Don’t dillydally, however, if you find a class or trip you want to try.
Some Everett Parks and Recreation programs have become so popular in recent years that registration has become a tricky process. Hiking trips and beginners’ swimming lessons, for example, can fill up in a matter of hours.
Until recently, die-hard participants were logging onto the department’s Web site in the middle of the night on the first day of registration to secure their slots.
“Lots of people were doing it at midnight,” said recreation supervisor Jane Lewis. “Now we have some control.”
This year, thanks to a Web site change, online registration for summer activities opens at 7 a.m. May 12.
If you really want to get into a class or trip and you’re new to the parks and rec Web site, however, you’ll need to take action sooner. Online registration requires a personal identification number, issued either in person at the parks office or over the phone.
“You cannot set it up yourself online,” Lewis said. “You talk to a live human being during work hours.”
Parks and rec staff don’t allow families to create their own accounts. It’s just easier, Lewis said, to keep families to one account per household in most cases.
There are other ways to register that don’t require a PIN, including phone registration, starting at 9 a.m. May 12, or by walking into the department offices between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. May 12, when four attendants will be ready to take registrations.
Families can also use the mail-in registration forms distributed with the guides, the phone method during parks and rec department hours or the Web site 24 hours a day.
Most people shouldn’t have a problem registering for most of the activities in the guide, Lewis said. However, people who find out that the classes or trips they want are full should sign up for slots on the waiting lists, even if they’re long, Lewis said.
If there is a high demand for a hiking trip, sometimes it’s possible to add another van or even another trip. Cancellations can open up class slots too, especially in last few days before a trip.
“We urge you go to ahead and be No. 27 on the waiting list,” Lewis said of one hypothetical situation. “I will to try to accommodate people on the really popular trips.”
Lewis said hiking trips usually fill up quickly because of Andy Boos, a well-known hike leader known as Alpine Andy, who has been taking local residents into the mountains for parks and rec trips for more than 10 years.
In 2006, Boos led his 1,000th hike for the department.
This year he’ll be taking groups all over Western Washington, including day trips to Ross Lake deep in the North Cascades, the Heather Meadows area of the Mount Baker Wilderness, Lake Serene below the summit of Mount Index, and steep and scenic Mount Ellinor in the Olympic Mountains, just to name a few.
He’ll also take ages 12 and older on a new two-night trip in July, “Rainier Overnighter.” Highlights will include an evening walk in the wildflower meadows near Paradise and an early-morning journey to the alpine country above Sunrise Lodge.
Though that trip costs $299 per adult and may not fill up instantly, most other hiking trips cost between $25 and $45 and can become booked quickly.
When it comes to beginners’ swimming classes, Lewis is urging families to be open-minded about time slots, especially for preschool and elementary-age kids.
“Those are the classes that fill up,” she said. “It’s all about being flexible if you’ve got somebody that needs to learn to swim that is the beginning level.”
Marianne Pugsley, the recreation coordinator for the aquatics programs, said the most popular summer aquatics classes fill up in about three hours.
She said the key is signing up through the Web site, instead of waiting in line at the recreation offices at Forest Park.
“You really have to find a way to use online registration,” she said. “It’s faster.”
It is also a must, Pugsley said, to sign up for waiting list positions in aquatics. One year, she added 30 extra preschool swim classes based on waiting-list numbers.
“I think people get discouraged if they can’t get in and they don’t try to go on a waiting list, thinking, ‘Oh I’ll never get in,’” Pugsley said. “That’s not necessarily true, especially in the summer. That’s when I have the highest staffing levels.”
If all else fails, families should remember that there are swimming lessons every quarter through parks and rec.
“We are a year-round facility,” Pugsley said. “There are other opportunities.”
Reporter Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037 or email@example.com