Back in the 20th century, summer camp options usually boiled down to 4-H, church, Scout or YMCA programs, often on a lake in the woods where activities ranged from swimming and hiking to swimming and hiking. Since then, a proliferation of choices has resulted in summer camps for everything from swimming and hiking to math, foreign languages, computers and performing arts.
It's enough to make any reasonable, responsible parent demand do-overs. You can, however, enjoy vicarious do-overs through your own children, by delivering them to the awesome contemporary camp of their choice and living the experience through the enthusiastic reports they bring home. Among the programs you might hope they pick:
What: Circus Arts Camps.
Who: Ages 7-18, subdivided into tighter age clusters.
Why: Are you kidding? The opportunity to learn low-flying trapeze skills, stilt-walking, juggling, acrobatics, pantomime, clowning and other circus skills, leading up to an actual performance for parents and friends, and you have to ask why? "They'll have tons of fun," says Cycropia Aerial Dance veteran and Mazomanie Movement Arts Center director Marcia Miquelon, "and go home each day worn out from all the active learning." Circus arts also develop focus and concentration, balance and self-esteem, while emphasizing teamwork and cooperation.
Taught by veterans of aerial dance, improvisational theater and physical comedy, these one-week day camps aim to instill a sense of physical competence and movement in three dimensions. A two-week advanced camp, for ages 10 and older with prior experience, introduces even more skills and apparatus (aerial improvisation, the rolling globe, the German wheel) and includes a Circus World Museum visit.
When and Where: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, June 14-18 (ages 7-9), June 21-25 (ages 7 and older), June 28-July 2 (ages 9 and older), and July 5-16 (advanced camp for ages 10 and older with prior experience), all at Mazomanie Movement Arts Center; and July 19-23 (teen camp for ages 12 and older), Goodman Community Center.
How: Registration is $200 for one-week Mazomanie camps, $400 for the two-week advanced camp, and $225 for the one-week Goodman Center session.
For more details, phone 608-795-0014, email email@example.com or visit their website.
What: Canoe and Kayak Camp.
Who: Students entering grades 6-8.
Why: "It's a way to get outside and learn some new skills," says Nancy Saulsbury, director of Rutabaga Outdoor Programs. Learning how to maneuver canoes and kayaks "opens up places you might not otherwise get to." Indeed, whatever parts of Madison aren't surrounded by water are still within portaging distance of lakes Mendota, Monona or Wingra, which add up to more than 13,000 acres of surface area and almost 40 shoreline miles to explore. Not to mention all the local rivers and creeks like the Yahara and Starkweather. Plus, the best time to learn good paddling skills is while you're young, before you've developed bad ones that need to be corrected. Among its handful of paddling day camps this summer, Rutabaga Outdoor Programs offers this introduction to both canoeing and kayaking, with games, activities and excursions that aim to teach basic strokes and maneuvers. Kids also learn water and weather safety, best practices for sharing the resource with anglers and larger boats, and responsible behavior in sensitive habitats.
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, July 19-23.
How: $349 (scholarship applications available), with registration at 608-223-9300; more information at their website.
What: The Total Guitarist.
Who: Guitarists and drummers entering grades 8-12 with at least one year of playing experience.
Why: School of Rock may have been an entertaining movie, but instructive? Not so much. And there's a lot to learn about rock - as well as blues, jazz and classical - guitar. Part of UW-Green Bay's extensive menu of summer arts and science camps, Total Guitarist puts the amp back in camp, bringing young ax-wielders of both the electric and acoustic persuasion together. "This summer we will be adding more of a 'real life' component," notes UW-Green Bay camps and conferences director Mona Christensen, referring to such program elements as how to run rehearsals and how to prepare for gigs and studio sessions. With a curriculum grounded in applied music theory, the syllabus includes everything from recording basics (how to lay down and mix tracks and overdubs) to such stage savvy as how to run a jam, craft and rehearse new songs, and play through professional-grade sound systems. "This year we are adding drummers to the mix," Christensen adds, "so guitarists can work with a rhythm person and bassist to build on some skills they can use when they get back home."
When: June 27-July 1.
Where: UW-Green Bay campus.
How: $495 residential rate includes instruction, room, board, camp T-shirt and transportation to evening activities including concerts and jam sessions. $295 commuter fee includes instruction and T-shirt.
For registration and other details, visit their website, phone 920-465-2775 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Young Student Summer Program.
Who: Students in grades 4-6.
Why: The Madison-based Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth is a smart choice among summer-camp options, where gifted students can have fun and learn in a setting among their peers. "Kids get a chance to explore something that they can get excited about," says WCATY president Carole Trone. "It's not at all related to grades. It's all about learning for learning's sake." All YSSP campers pursue a fast-paced, weeklong, small-group program that plays to their scholarly strengths and enthusiasm. Options include biology, chemistry, digital art and photography, physics, journalism, Japanese culture and language, Shakespeare, Greek mythology and space exploration. Each afternoon, all campers have recreation time, where activities include Ultimate Frisbee and Capture the Flag. Daytime courses are augmented by evening workshops ranging from ballroom dance to knitting to spoken-word.
When: Aug. 1-7.
Where: Beloit College.
How: $800 for residential campers and $500 for commuters (some financial aid may be available) includes all books, materials, supplies, lab fees, meals for residential students, and lunch and snacks for commuter students. A nonrefundable $60 application fee is due by the May 8 application deadline. Phone 608-890-3260 or email email@example.com for more information, or visit their website, select "programs" and click on the YSSP link.
Kids critics choice
Presented by Madison Ballet, March 13 (2 & 7:30 pm) & 14 (2 pm), Overture Center's Overture Hall
Madison Ballet revives its lavish production.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
March 14, Capitol Square, 1:30 pm
Whether you're Irish or not, who can pass up a parade?
,i>Presented by Dance Wisconsin, March 21, Waisman Center, 1 & 3 pm
Dance Wisconsin adapts Beatrix Potter tales in this preview performance for the Waisman Center Children's Theatre.
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.