As this winter's weirdly springlike weather has been suggesting, summer is not far off. Summer is the time of year when grownups go to work at 7 a.m. so they can take Friday afternoon off. Summer is also the time of year when kids get to go to camp. And yes, one of these options definitely sounds more appealing than the other.
Here are some camps where kids can explore specific interests. Yes, summer may be a few months away, but the time to sign up is now.
IN THE FOOTLIGHTS
American Players Theatre A.C.T. Camp
at Bethel Horizons Camp and Retreat Center, 4651 County Highway ZZ, Dodgeville, 608-935-5885, $875
It was the Bard who wrote, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." And perhaps there is no summer program where this holds more true than American Players Theatre's annual A.C.T. (Acting for Classical Theater) camp. Designed for motivated teens (they accept students 13-17) looking for in-depth drama training, this overnight experience (Aug. 12-17) involves campers in daily workshops led by APT acting company members.
From text work, to movement, to auditioning, students spend the day mastering skills on the beautiful Bethel Horizons grounds in Dodgeville. Then, on four of the evenings, campers will make their way "up the hill" to take in one of APT's 2012 productions in Spring Green. And if your child has always wanted to try his hand at playing one of Shakespeare's famous lovers, the week culminates with participants performing an abridged version of Much Ado About Nothing on APT's flagship stage.
"A lot of our campers have grown up on APT," says camp director Kathy Hiteman, "but others come from out of state. They all agree the chance to work with professional actors every day and then see them perform at night is truly unique."
- Sari Judge
LEARNING THE ROPES
Boulders Climbing Gym
3964 Commercial Ave., Madison, 608-244-8100, $150-$250
Does your little one beg to spend "just one more hour" at the jungle gym? Does she clamber up every rock pile she comes across? Unleash the kids' inner Spidey with a week of summer camp at Boulders Climbing Gym.
With its 8,000 square feet of space, Boulders gives kids lots of room to move. And climbing is a great sport for kids, says Boulders manager Katie Schultz. "It builds confidence, and a lot of them take to it naturally." Moreover, she adds, "It's a chance for them to have fun while exercising."
And it's a terrific mind-body workout. Climbing not only teaches teamwork, balance and agility, but also requires mental concentration and problem solving. (And yes, Mom and Dad, with proper instruction and supervision, it's safe as milk.)
Boulders offers three levels of climbing camps: Base Camp (6-9 years), Summit Camp and Expedition Camp (both 10-17 years). Base Camp, as the name implies, introduces your budding rock hopper to the sport, with an emphasis on basic climbing terms, safety and structured games. Summit Camp teaches more advanced climbing skills, including belaying, rappelling, balance and control. Expedition Camp replicates Summit Camp, but also includes a daylong climbing expedition to Devil's Lake State Park, one of the best climbing areas in the Midwest.
All camps are offered weekly, June 18-Aug. 13, Monday-Friday, either morning or afternoon (except for the one-day trip to Devil's Lake).
- Michana Buchman
Monroe Street Fine Arts Center
2526 Monroe St., Madison, 608-232-1510, $140
When parents think of "arts" with regard to camp, they expect it to be followed by the words "and crafts." But at the Monroe Street Fine Arts Center, summer creativity isn't limited to friendship bracelets, macramé and gimp lanyards. Each year, June through August, this neighborhood arts studio runs a series of weeklong (Monday through Friday) mini-camps dedicated to bringing fine art instruction to area youth. Five- to seven-year-olds might choose to get messy in one of the popular themed classes like "Aliens and Robots" or "All About Animals." And new this summer, future horror film fans can enroll in "Monsters of Art," where they'll use paint, fabric and clay to invent their own scary, or perhaps cuddly, monsters.
Eight- to 10-year-olds itching to dial up their technique can sign up for "Drawing Fundamentals," which provides an introduction to gray scale, still life creation, and figure drawing. And budding Van Gogh or Warhol wannabes might consider taking "Artist Exploration"; it's entirely possible the art world is ready for fresh takes on Starry Night or Campbell's soup cans.
There are classes for the tween set, too. And for those artists who already have a vision, but just need some supplies to bring it to life, the center offers a non-instructional, supervised open art studio for ages 6-15 every weekday from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m.
- Sari Judge
NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED...
Richland Center, 608-647-8703, $650-$1300
Camp Woodbrooke is a nature-centered take on the traditional summer camp, located on 162 acres outside of Richland Center. The dining hall and game room are in a vintage Wisconsin barn, campers sleep in rustic cabins in the woods, and once a week campers go on a tent camping outing. A spring-fed pond is the site for swimming lessons and canoeing. While the program is based on Quaker teachings, camp directors underline that religious beliefs are not stressed; principles like peace and cooperation are. Activities also include archery, woodworking, cooking, gardening and pottery. From-scratch vegetarian or vegan meals are available, as are glucose-free and other diets, by request. Some foods come from the camp garden.
A weeklong session for children 7-12 starts June 24. Following that, three two-week sessions for children 7-12 take place starting July 1, and two two-week sessions for teens 13-15 take place starting July 15. There's also a family camping session to close out the summer on Aug. 31. An open house will take place May 20 from 1-4 p.m.
- Linda Falkensteincomments powered by Disqus
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.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.