Schermerhorn: Now's time to register children for summer activities

Registrations are open for most park district activities and camps for the summer.

Spots for many of these programs fill up quickly, so sign up now to avoid having a child with nothing to do this summer. Some programs offer reduced registration fees based on family need.

Before I get into activities offered by many McHenry County communities, I need to remind parents that if your child is struggling and his/her teacher recommends summer school, that is the first priority for your child. I’m certain as a parent, you wouldn’t want your son or daughter to start the next school year at a disadvantage. He/she can participate in park district or other activities that are outside of summer school hours.

Day camps provide children with primarily outdoor activities for most of the day with children their own age. Activities may include swimming, canoeing, archery, arts and crafts and sports. Many of these programs offer before and/or after care options to accommodate parent work schedules. Pool passes encourage physical, outdoor exercise and keep everyone cool in the summer. I strongly recommend getting these for the family.

Registration for most park districts can be done one of four ways: online, via fax, mail or drop-off. Municipalities have park district or recreation center websites where you can view the entire 2014 summer activity brochure and obtain the registration forms.

This is not a complete list of all the programs available to our children, but here are some of the highlights:

Crystal Lake parks is offering a flexible day camp where sign-up is week to week. One doesn’t have to commit to the entire 10-week program. The park district also offers a Summer School Camp, where children attending summer school will be driven to camp before or after summer school hours so students attending summer school may participate in camp activities. There is a traveling Art Camp, where the student spends one half-day for a week at their local park creating masterpieces. On May 23, the Children’s Gardening Program begins meeting one night a week and works with 4H Master Gardeners. Surplus produce will go to local food pantries. There are also early childhood programs.

Brochures for the Woodstock Recreation/Park District summer programs are to be mailed Tuesday. A sneak peek of their offerings include swim lessons, bowling, gymnastics, babysitter training, soccer clinics, horseback riding, taekwondo, cooking classes and a half-day summer camp for ages 6 through 7 and 7 through 12 at Olson School. Other activities include “Canvas Craze” painting, golf, tennis, volleyball and dance.

The city of McHenry Parks and Recreation is accepting registration now for its summer programs. McHenry is offering a variety of camps, youth sports leagues, dance and aquatic classes. Unusual features are the open track meets, where youngsters are matched up against children of their own age and gender in track and field events. Even more unique is the Run and Roll Track Meet, where the physically and visually impaired may compete.

The Cary parks website posts resident registration starts Monday. Cary has early childhood programs, swim lessons, lifeguard training, horsemanship, skateboard lessons, drama and a variety of camps. Camp Echo seems to be the jewel in the park district’s crown, having won several awards over the years. There are two levels of Camp Echo, kindergarten through fifth grade and sixth through eighth.

Marengo Park District sponsors Camp Arrowhead, with extended day options, and the Chicago Fire Soccer Summer Camp. There also are many sport activities, including basketball ball-handling, junior basketball, T-ball for ages 4 through 5 and 6 through 7, all types of horseback riding lessons, a Teddy Bear Picnic and roller hockey.

Harvard Parks and Recreation has a 7,000-square-foot pool that was built in 2001 and is handicapped accessible.

Park districts are not the only source of summer activities for young people. Don’t forget your local library summer reading programs, local 4H programs, Boy and Girl Scouts camps and Girls on the Run chapters.

To give your child a college experience, McHenry County College is offering a College and Career Readiness Program for grades one through nine. TECH Camp includes six four-day sessions of STEM curriculum – science technology, engineering and math.  MCC also offers a host of Summer Academy classes, including broadcasting, pre-algebra/algebra, Zainy Brainy writing workshop, Lego animation, 3D paper engineering and website creation.

Class schedules are flexible and registration for MCC courses begins Friday.

After doing the research on summer activities offered for children in McHenry County, it is evident there are many talented, dedicated and energetic people working for our kids.

Many McHenry County communities have summer concerts in the park.

Woodstock’s summer band concerts are on Wednesdays, McHenry’s and Cary’s are on Thursdays, and in Crystal Lake, the concerts are held Tuesdays on the Main Beach. These are a great, free opportunity for your family to be together and enjoy sharing music and beautiful summer nights.

So pack a picnic or grab an ice cream cone, lie down on an old blanket, look at the stars and live in the moment.

• Leslie Schermerhorn is regional superintendent of McHenry County schools.

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