Baking, Biking, Boxes: Recreation Programs Adapt to Meet Community Need

Because the Burien Community Center and Moshier Art Center could no longer be physical places where community could gather, exercise, learn a new skill, or access important health services, the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services (PaRCS) department looked at how to offer programs and services for community members stuck at home.

The Great Burien Baking Challenge

PaRCS staff invited the community to show off their baking skills in the Great Burien Baking Challenge!  In May, we offered three weeks of challenges, asking people to send in pictures of their best pastry, cake, and cookie creations. More than 50 people participated, and expert baking judge Keli Sim DeRitis helped us choose the star bakers. Congratulations to Leshawn Dandridge for her “Southeast Asia Floating Market”-themed Key Lime Tart, Chelsey Hancock for her “Peekaboo Rainbow Striped Heart Cake”, and Kelsey Cabilin and her sweet children for their butterfly and daisy cookies.  

The community asked for more, so we rolled out a summer challenge in July! Sarah Moore won the bread sculpture challenge for her bread ant made from Japanese milk bread and Russian black bread, and Alex Kloehn won the berry challenge for his “Summer Berry Honey Eton Mess Cake”. We plan to continue this fall with monthly challenges that showcase seasonal flavors. And someday we hope to do this challenge in person so we can all taste test the yummy baked goods!

Bike Everywhere Month

June was Bike Everywhere Month, and PaRCS staff planned an action-packed month of programming for families to take part in from the seat of their bikes.

During the Bike Bingo Challenge, people filled out a bingo card and turned it in at the Burien Farmers Market for a prize. Bike and Seek was a socially distanced event that took place at five Burien parks. Clues for activities were announced on social media. Some of the activities included finding animal tracks throughout the park, taking part in hopscotch, and finding decorative rocks.

For people who were unable to get out to celebrate Bike Everywhere Month, the department posted an online series of fix-a-flat videos, instructions on how to perform a basic bike check (air, brakes, cranks and chains) on your bike, and virtual rides through our national parks.

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and Juneteenth celebrations, we made the decision to cancel our Bike Everywhere Day event scheduled for June 19, 2020. In place of the event, staff rode their bikes to Black-owned businesses in Burien to deliver Burien City Council’s Juneteenth Proclamation, a flower, and a thank you message.


With more people staying home, there was more time to devote to gardening. Edible gardening, in particular, gained in popularity.

The PaRCS Department partnered with White Center Food Bank to offer how-to videos for home gardeners wanting to grow their own edible gardens. Mara Bernard, Community Farms and Facilities Manager for White Center Food Bank, demonstrated lessons in their Grow to Give Garden. This video series will continue throughout the year.

Mystery Safari—The Case of the Elusive Unicorns

Unicorns? In Burien?!  In August, families spent a few hours of fun wandering through Burien’s downtown, solving silly riddles and looking for clues to find the unicorns. The scavenger hunt event ran for two weeks, and families could participate in costume, find unicorns in Dottie Harper Park, and develop their own silly riddles for an extra chance to win donated prizes.

Thank you to the following businesses for participating: Phoenix Tea Shop, Discover Burien, Natural Pet Pantry, Lavish Roots Catering, Page Two Books, Armoire Chocolat, and Highline Heritage Museum. Look for more scavenger hunts to come…we hear a UFO may have landed!

Afterschool Programs Go Online

With the move to distance learning, afterschool programs in middle schools were canceled. Staff knew that it was vital to stay connected to the students with whom they had created bonds and that other students were looking to make connections with their peers. With the help of Highline Public Schools administrators, staff developed a weekly virtual afterschool program. Activities included live polls, art, trivia games, wellness resources, and prize bags full of goodies delivered to each participant’s home.

Virtual Recreation Center

From health tips and recipes to art projects, mindfulness activities, virtual tours, and ways to get the whole family moving, a new set of activities was posted online each week that could be done at home or outdoors. The PaRCS department also hosted virtual classes where students could participate in a class via Zoom with their teachers and connect with other students. 

Rec on the Run and Camp in a Box

For seven weeks during the summer, families could register to receive a box full of fun activities that would be delivered to their doorstep. Each week had a theme and all the supplies and instructions were included. Themes included: “Out to Sea”, “Outer Space”, “Art in All Forms”, “Safari”, “Camping”, “Dance Party”, and “Sports”. There were even virtual field trips!

Rec on the Run boxes included instructions and supplies for a week of at-home activities. Photo credit: City of Burien.
Gabbi Gonzales
Recreation Coordinator at | More posts
Amanda Morales
Recreation Coordinator at | More posts
Gina Kallman
Former Cultural Arts Supervisor at | More posts
Patricia Mejia
Former Recreation Specialist - Teen at | More posts
Rebecca Baker
Former Recreation Coordinator at | More posts
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