Keeping busy on spring break

Park districts, rec departments planning activities for youngsters

With youngsters in the county out of school for the next week, parents will be looking for activities to keep them entertained.

Many parks and recreations departments and park districts are holding spring break camps to help keep kids busy during the weeklong vacations.

Lake in the Hills, McHenry and Cary Park District, among others, are planning activities, such as movies, trips to swimming pools and trips to Shedd Aquarium.

The Crystal Lake Park District has a handful of field trips planned and some activities that range in cost from $28 to $190, depending on the event and how many days it will run.

The events are there for parents who may not have something planned for their children during the days off, said Jenny Leech, public information coordinator for the park district.

Leech also said the park district will have its nature center open and Colonel Palmer House open for free activities.

“Kids get into less trouble when they’re busy,” Leech said.

Staying active also is good for youngsters’ health, Leech added.

“It’s good to have options,” she said.

The park district also offered field trips as there was a downturn in the economy and more people stayed home for spring break instead of planning a vacation.

The city of McHenry last year started offering a small spring break camp, which hosts up to 14 kids a day during the week.

The activities are at the municipal center, said Cindy Witt, the city’s superintendent of recreation.

Each day of the camp has arts and crafts, small group games and a field trip.

This year trips include visiting Papa John’s and learning how to make pizza, going to a movie, visiting the Crystal Ice House, visiting Monkey Joe’s and going bowling.

“We’re trying to find activities for people whose kids might need fun things to do if their parents are working, or some activities to get out of the house,” Witt said.

Even the Volo Auto Museum is planning special activities to try to draw families to the museum.

The museum said it will admit children under age 12 for free if they come in a superhero costume from March 22 through March 30. The museum is promoting that it has an memorabilia for many movies and characters including the Incredible Hulk, Batman and Looney Tunes.

Also members of “We are Cosplay” will portray Iron Man and Captain America, among others, on March 30.

The Huntley Park District has daily themed activities at its Rec Center during the week off, including a baseball-themed spring training day, a nature day and a luau day.

The Cary Park District always tries to schedule activities for kids when they have a day off from school, said Katie Hughes, director of communications and marketing.

Hughes said fees for the activities cover the cost of admission to certain locations and the cost of supervision.

District staff has planned swimming at the Dolphin Swim Club, cooking activities and a pizza party, which is still available for youngsters to sign up.

“A lot of times kids like field trips because they go places without mom and dad and go with their friends,” Hughes said.

If weather allows, park district staff try to schedule outdoor activities at a playground and games.

Usually staff will be there from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m to coordinate the childrens’ activities.

“It offers a safe place for kids to hang out and play,” Hughes said. “Parents who have to work that week know their kids are playing in supervised activities and know they’re having a lot of fun.”

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