Area rich with summer options for kids

Published 9:19 am Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer is here, and some area parents may still be looking for ways to occupy and enrich their children’s days while school is out.
There are many local choices for children’s camps, offering a range of activities from swimming to crafts, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, reading and more. A few of the local options are described below.
Polk County Recreation’s School’s Out summer camp
The Polk County Recreation Department offers a summer camp for children 5-12 years old at Stearns Gym in Columbus. The camp runs from 7:15 a.m. – 6 p.m. on weekdays.
“We go to the Gibson Park Pool twice a week,” camp director Lisa Brown said, “and we also have a wide variety of ‘clubs’ children can participate in, including a fishing club that goes to Laughter Pond, a horseback riding club and a playground club that visits different playgrounds in the area.”
Children can participate in multiple clubs depending on their interests, Brown said.
Campers also might take in a movie at the Tryon Theater if an appropriate movie is showing.
Brown said she usually organizes one community activity for the campers, too. Last year, she said, the children helped work on the sidewalk around the courthouse in Columbus.
“I’m not sure what we’ll do this year,” she said, “but we will most likely find some similar project. The kids were very enthusiastic about the sidewalk work last year.”
Counselors include older high school students, college students and some adults, Brown said.
The camp will begin June 13, after school is out for Polk County, and will continue until the day before school starts again in August. Parents can sign up for a 3-, 4- or 5-day plan each week.
For more information, call 828-894-8199 or check, click on “Departments” and then on “Recreation.”
The Polk County Recreation Department is also accepting applications for swimming lessons and pool passes. Registration forms are available at Stearns Gym and online at For more information or questions, call the pool at 828-894-2646.
Serendipity Kids Ranch at Harmon Field
Serendipity Kids Ranch offers a summer camp at Harmon Field that runs for 10 weeks, Monday through Friday, during the summer school break.
Organized activities are planned every day from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Supervised care is from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Special needs children are included in the regular camp setting.
Summer camp activities include crafts, gardening/landscaping, music, physical exercise, sports and water activities. Special presentations by various community organizations are interspersed throughout the summer as Mystery Days or Outdoor Education Days.
Pizza Tuesdays are sponsored by Buck’s Pizza, and on other days, meals can be ordered from various local restaurants, or children can bring lunch.
For more information, visit, call 828-894-3370 or email
FENCE Summer Day Camps
The Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) in Tryon offers a number of day camps for children throughout the summer.
Offering fresh air, outdoor games and activities from photography to astronomy, the day camps take advantage of FENCE’s 380 acres of open space and are designed to make creative learning fun for children.
This year’s camps include:
• Horse Camp, June 13-17. The FENCE Horse Camp is intended for children 8-12 years old and runs from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. daily. Children will learn the basics of horse care, including grooming, tacking and horse safety. They will also learn how to mount, dismount, walk and trot. This camp is limited to 35 children.
• Intermediate Horse Camp, June 20-24. The FENCE Intermediate Horse Camp is for children 8-12 years old who have attended at least one session of the beginners horse camp, or who have received approval from FENCE to attend. Participants will continue developing the equestrian skills learned in the beginner Horse Camp. This camp, which will meet from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. daily, is limited to 25 children.
• Nature and Astronomy Camp, July 4-8. The FENCE Nature and Astronomy Camp, for children ages 5-12, is designed to allow children to discover and learn about the plants and animals that make their homes at FENCE. They will also learn about protecting the environment. The camp will include a star party, at which campers will learn how to use a telescope to discover the rings around Saturn, the craters on the moon and other features of the night sky.
• FENCE Day Camp, July 11-15. FENCE’s all-day camp runs daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Campers will participate in crafts and other activities. Once campers are registered, parents will receive information about planned activities and what each camper should bring.
• Art Camp, July 18-22. The FENCE Art Camp is for children ages 5-12. Campers will study art from different lands.
• Friendly Environmental Nature Camp for Everyone, July 25-29. The Friendly Environmental Nature Camp for Everyone (FENCE) is an all-day camp for children ages 5-12 that blends all the other camps. Participants will explore nature and learn about the earth, astronomy, photography and survival skills.
A morning and afternoon snack is provided; campers should bring a bag lunch.
For more information about FENCE day camps, check or call 828-859-9021.
4-H Summer Series
The 4-H Summer Series is a collection of educational workshops, field trips and hands-on activities planned especially for Polk County youth to give them positive learning opportunities and help develop life skills. Classes include cooking, sewing, science exploration, livestock care and maintenance, financial management as well as some fun field trips.
4-H also offers a week-long summer camp for a summer full of fun and educational activities.
To learn more call the 4-H Office at 828-894-8218.

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