New Hampden rec center director ready to rock at summer camp

For a guy who says he's 24 and wears shorts, sneakers and a barely tucked shirt with a tie to an awards dinner, Joshua Fissel sure has a lot of work experience.

Fissel, the new director of Baltimore City's Roosevelt Recreation Center in Hampden, was previously the director of the South Baltimore Recreation Center for four years, and before that, a recreation leader at the Edgewood-Lyndhurst Recreation Center in Edmonson — and before that, a part-time staff member for the city's Ella Bailey Recreation Center, also in south Baltimore.

24, did you say?

"I know, the math doesn't add up," Fissel said, admitting mischieviously that he's not 24. Still, he wouldn't tell his real age, saying he doesn't want children and youths at the rec center to think that he's "boring."

And if they ask him how old he is, "the best they'll get out of me is 23, 24," he said.

Fissel succeeds Todd Clary (who succeeds Fissel in South Baltimore). The two centers are very different; South Baltimore is attached to a school, but Roosevelt has an active recreation council, Fissel said.

Fissel thinks young, and is already having an impact on programming at the rec center, located at Falls Road and West 36th Street. He and his staff, three of whom he brought with him from South Baltimore, are already reviving roller skating in the gym.

"When you get the lights out and a disco ball on, it looks really cool," he said.

The Hampden Recreation Council recently held a fundraiser to replace old skates.

Fissel is also starting floor hockey, with help from the Washington Capitals.

"We just got our equipment today," he said during a rec council awards dinner at The Dizz in Remington on June 16.

And he is transplanting a performing arts summer camp from South Baltimore, called Camp Rock. For $500, kids can spend seven weeks starting June 27 rehearsing for a show called "The Final Jam" on Aug. 12, based on the movie "Camp Rock II."

Plus they get weekly field trips and breakfast, lunch and dinner, he said.

The laid-back Fissel is already a hit with the rec council. City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke took notice, too.

"I like the outfit," said Clarke, who presented Volunteer of the Year Carl "Ed" DeVore a certificate of appreciation at the awards dinner.

Fissel enrolled at Baltimore City Community College to be a teacher, but never finished after an AmeriCorps internship at the Ella Bailey Recreation Center.

"What I love about my job," he said, "is that I get paid to have fun."

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