city kids: a guide to summer fun in the burg.

I don’t know about you, but during the school year, I am BUSY. And my kids are busy. The end of the year arrives none too soon, but still shockingly fast, and I often find I’m… unprepared. Come Monday, June 10, I’m going to have that “oh-my-gosh-what-the-heck-am-I-gonna-do-with-the-kids-now” freak out. But this year, I’m determined to be prepared when they ask, “Mom, what are we going to do today?” So I’ve compiled this list — for myself, for you, for everyone who might find themselves in this predicament — of activities, camps and classes offered by Harrisonburg businesses and organizations to keep your kiddos busy allll summer long.

kids on a slip-n-slideSpitzer Art Center Children’s Workshops
Children ages 5 – 10 can sign up for one of many classes offered at the center. Register one week ahead for topics such as collage, drawing, water color, greeting cards, and more.

Larkin Arts Youth Summer Art Program
Kids ages 6 – 14 can attend week-long, 3-hour classes for $85. Classes include papier mache, sculpture, basket making, drawing, collage, photography, food art, painting, and a bunch of others.

larkin arts signArts Council of the Valley and Court Square Theater Summer Art Camp
These 3-hour, Monday to Friday classes cost $80 and include acting, characterization, script writing, choreography, improv, singing, dancing, poetry, filmmaking, comic creation, plus many more. Ages 6 – 15.

You Made It! also offers week-long camps, Monday to Friday for three hours, for $185. Ages 6 and up. Classes include clay, canvas painting, wheel throwing, pottery painting, fused glass, and several others.

kid in treeExplore More Children’s Museum offers 4-day classes, three hours per day, for ages 3 – 5th grade. Topics include LEGO engineering, Jedi training, Culinary Kids, Project Funway, Castles, Crowns and Catapults, Animal Adventures, and Construction Junction, to name a few.

kids hands holding LEGOSBlue Ridge Community College Learning Can Be Fun 
BRCC offers a zillion classes for grades K – 12, including art, music, dance, theater, culture, history, literature, nature, science, technology, sports and outdoor recreation. The classes run Monday – Friday for 3 hours each day, through the end of July.

James Madison University
JMU also boasts a large assortment of camps for summer kids, including baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, football, fencing and field hockey. They also offer band camp, diversity studies, poetry workshops, nonviolence seminars, and STEM classes.

Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation
In addition to spending some time at one of our many city parks, like Purcell, A Dream Come True, or Hillandale, your child can enjoy swimming at Westover Pool (open Monday through Saturday noon to 7pm and Sunday 1pm to 7pm) and a variety of classes. Some of their offerings include guitar, mountain biking, water adventure, adventure sports, rock climbing, rafting/kayaking, a ton of dance classes, archery, fishing, jump rope, skate boarding, and pretty much every major sport.

child in pool child at poolMassanutten Regional Library kicks off its annual Summer Reading Games, but you have to register THIS WEEK to get the free pass to the Massanutten Water Park. Other activities include Baseball Storytimes (Turks read to kids), Crafty Kids, LEGO Club, and Stitch and Knit, plus others.

RMH Wellness Center has full- or half-day camps on a weekly basis, for kids ages 4 – 11. Kids will learn about topics like dinosaurs, medieval times, the ocean, and space, plus participate in activities like swimming, rock climbing, indoor and outdoor games, playground time, crafts, fitness, and sports.

Library signYes, summer is about relaxing and decompressing after a stressful school year, but keeping your kids active will make them healthy, blah blah blah. Really, it’ll make them SLEEP WELL at night :) So sign up for something today! Consider it an investment in the sanity of your household. You’ll all be better for it.

child asleep in carCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

water… the universal solvent: westover park.

Water is the ultimate miracle drug. Since our very conception, we’ve been comforted by it. We spend nine peaceful months cradled in water, then emerge with a lifelong desire to return to it. We soak in hot water after a stressful day, letting it relax our weary bodies and minds. We seek cool water on a hot day; it invigorates and cleanses us.

We take trips to the beach to get in the water and feel the weightlessness it provides with each passing wave. In water, pain seems to dissolve; it envelops us in softness and freedom. Our hearts beat more easily with less weight. Our joints feel better, our muscles relax, tension floats away. And when the kids are bickering and whining and have gotten on the last millimeter of my last nerve, it’s TIME TO GO TO THE POOL. Westover, as a matter of fact.

Once there, we sprayed everyone down with sunscreen, put floaties on Cal, and dug all the torpedoes and diving toys out of last summer’s still-sandy beach bag, and shooed the kids off to the pool. I settled down into a chair in the sunshine, letting my entire being sink into the solid frame and feeling my thigh flesh seep into the seat cracks, and letting a barely audible “thank God” escape my mouth. Ahhhhh.

welcome to the pharmacy.

classic beauty!

Our friend Danielle accompanied us, pretty in pink and a straw hat. For a few minutes no one said anything–it just felt good to be in the sun and near water. But then “Sexy and I Know It” came on the radio and that got us to talking. Cal had started singing it in the car earlier (by the way, he pronounces it “suxy”) and Bree had answered (in sing-song fashion), “Cal’s inappropriate and he doesn’t know it.” We also heard “Party In the Whatever Rockin’ House Tonight” and some Katy Gaga. We continued talking about the usual–boys, do-I-look-okay-in-this-swimsuit, kitchen counter tops, and Brandy’s awesome ultimate rainbow fantasy towel, courtesy of Nanny.

The kids were having fun swimming and splashing around and getting out of the pool now and then to warm up, chat, and play. From where we sat, we could keep an eye on everyone, plus the place is well staffed with rotating lifeguards (“pool police” I call ’em), Another nice feature of Westover Pool is its shady areas. You can get out of the sun when you feel you’ve had enough. There’s a grassy area, too.

Then Bree and Blake decided to go down the water slides. There are three, and the tallest one is a long, huge spiral. I knew that Cal, whose head is the only part of him that seems to grow, was much too little to ride, plus he could get his giant head stuck in there. Blake was tall enough last year. But I was nervous about Bree. Two years ago she was just a hair too short to ride, and though disappointed, she felt confident she’d be tall enough for the next summer.

So last summer when she was still too short, she was TICKED. HOT. IRATE. In a small, cute kinda way. Maybe they raised the height requirement–who knows, regulations change, but to her it felt like she’d never catch up to that blasted red line.

It reminded me of my brother and the whole drinking age debacle. It was 1983, back when the drinking age was 18. My brother was 17, and he was counting down the days to his first legit beer with Dad. But just two months before the big day, the threshold was raised to 19. Then the next year, 20. He was TICKED. HOT. IRATE. Anyway, if Bree was somehow, after a year of outgrowing every pair of pants she owned–twice, still too short… well, I just covered my eyes.

YAY!! Vindication!

Just a few minutes later I found Cal in line at the diving board among towering teenagers. I had to break it to him that he’s too small for that too. Meh. He took it in stride.

We stayed for a good three hours before a new case of the crankies set in. Next time this happens in your household, try Westover Park. You can easily make a day of it, what with the playground, picnic areas, frisbee golf, a skate park, activities center, and pool. The pool is open Monday through Saturday noon til 7pm, and Sunday 1pm to 7pm.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.