Mother Lode parents have plenty of options for keeping their kids occupied this summer — from youth soccer leagues, to vacation Bible schools, to art camps.
Instructor Sheri Betz (left) and student Vicente Redwing blow on dry ice at a science camp last year. File photo/Union Democrat, copyright 2012
Many organizations are already registering participants for summer activities, and spaces are filling up fast. Others, like some Tuolumne County Recreation Department programs, may accept registration after the program starts if space is available.
The Tuolumne County Recreation Department and the Central Sierra Arts Council are both planning new activities for this year with more details to come soon.
Summer activities are “a really good way to get kids introduced to something new,” said Sarah Garcia, Tuolumne County Recreation Department activity coordinator.
“It’s also a good way for them to meet kids from other schools...They give them an opportunity to make friends outside their normal social group,” she said.
For young nature and history lovers, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Columbia State Historic Park and
Yosemite National Park all hold free or low-cost activities for kids. As an added bonus, Columbia State Historic Park has no entrance fee.
From May through September, kids ages 7 to 13 can buy a junior ranger book for $3.50 at Yosemite visitor centers and earn junior ranger badges. California state parks also have junior ranger programs.
The following is just a sampling of summer activities available for kids in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties this year:
Recreation Department programs
The Tuolumne County Recreation Department organizes a variety of summer programs for kids. A full listing will be included in the department’s Summer Recreation Guide, released as a May 15 newspaper insert and May 16 Foothill Shopper insert.
The TCRD’s Sonora Summer Recreation program goes from June 11 through July 26 on Mondays through Thursdays, with open registration.
The Sonora Tiny Tots program, which runs from May 21 through June 28, has a registration deadline of Friday, May 11. Selection will take place by a lottery on May 14. Another Tiny Tots session will run from July 9 through August 16, with registration forms due Friday, June 29.
The cost for Tiny Tots is $124.75 if the child is enrolled for two days of the week or $249.50 for all four days.
Sonora High teacher Dan Dona will coach at a basketball camp from June 11-15 in the Sonora High School gym. Students in grades 3-12 may sign up at a cost of $40 each.
The TCRD also offers, soccer, golf and tennis camps. For more information, call 533-5663 or see the Summer Recreation Guide.
Columbia College sports programs
Columbia College offers a “Basketball Academy” to be taught by men’s basketball coach Nathan Rien from June 4 through 6. The program is open to kids from third through 10th grades, with both games and individual instruction.
Registration forms will be accepted through May 4 at a cost of $50 per participant.
A second basketball camp for the same age group will take place July 10 through 12.
The college has a recreational basketball program for community members of all ages who will practice in the Oak Pavilion. Dates for this program are 5 to 7 p.m. on Sundays beginning May 20 and ending Aug. 19. The cost is $30 for the semester.
For information on the camps or recreational basketball program, call 588-5182 or visit gocolumbia.edu/basketball/camps.
Children ages 4 to 18 can participate in recreational soccer leagues, which start registering early for a fall season that often begins in August.
Tuolumne County Youth Soccer is registering participants through June 1, with registration forms available at tcysoccer.org. Walk-up registration will take place June 2 at Standard Park. Call 532-KICK for more information.
Registration fees are $45 to $55 per player, depending on age. After May 15, fees go up by $10.
In Calaveras County, the Ebbetts Pass Youth Soccer League opened registration on April 1 for its fall season, which begins Aug. 1. Through May 31, the registration fee is $70. From June 1 to July 15, the fee will go up to $90 per player. For more information, visit epysl.org.
Both Tuolumne County Youth Soccer and the Ebbetts Pass Youth Soccer League offer summer camps. Contact each organization for more information.
The Gold Country Music Day Camp will take place this year from July 9 through 13 at Columbia Elementary School. It will end with a concert performance on July 13. The camp is open to students in grades six through nine, and the fee is $75. The final deadline for registering is June 22. After June 1, the fee will go up to $100.
Visual arts and theater
The Central Sierra Arts Council is offering a summer arts camp for kids ages 7 to 12. The program will run from June 18 through June 22 and has a registration fee of $115.
Louise McPeeters of CSAC described the program as a “week of intense classes in visual arts, music, theater and dance.” Students will be mentored by professional artists and performers. An art show and performance will finish off the program.
The Central Sierra Arts Council is planning another program, with details to come soon.
Mountain Youth and Community Theater, formerly Meyer Hideout and Sonora Children’s Theater, holds a six-week “Summer Hideout” camp beginning in June. The program is currently full, but students may still register for the waitlist. The cost for the camp $450. For more information, visit mountainyouthact.com/index.html or call 874-6408.
In Calaveras County, Murphys Creek Theater offers the “Mirror Project,” billed as “an intensive Shakespearean training and performance experience for students ages 9 to 16.”
The program will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 2 through 30. It includes classes on audition techniques, voice and movement, stage combat, dance, and acting with masks. Students will work with professional actors and actresses performing in the Murphys Creek Theater’s productions. The program culminates in a production of The Tempest.
The deadline for joining Mirror Project is May 26. For more information, call 728-8422 or visit murphyscreektheatre.org/mirror-project-2012.
This year Columbia College will host the “Mad About Science” camp, coordinated by the Tuolumne County Office of Education. The camp runs from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Aug. 6 through 10.
Applications, which include a short written response about why the student is interested in the camp, are due to the student’s classroom teacher or the Office of Education by May 15. The Office of Education is located at 175 S. Fairview Lane.
For an application or more information, call Jeanie Smith at 536-2006 or visit www.tuolcoe.k12.ca.us/MAS.html.
Each branch of the Tuolumne County Library will have free summer activities for kids. A “Fun in the Sun” day will open the summer reading program at the Sonora Main Library on June 12, with crafts and finger painting.
Later summer activities at the Sonora Main Library include a drum circle, “Night at the Library” and “Stuffed Animal Sleepover.” The Tuolumne County Library’s three other branches have their own activities.
Signup is required for some events. The limit for each event is 35 participants, and more specific advertising will go out two weeks before each event.
A summer reading club will give incentives for children and teens to keep reading after school ends. Prizes go to those who log their reading hours and reach milestones, with the reward for six hours of reading being a pool party on Aug. 4.
For a full listing of Toulumne County Library programs, contact youth librarian Lynn McCormick at 694-2727.
For information about children’s activities and summer reading programs at the eight branches of the Calaveras County Library, call 754-6706.
Vacation Bible school
Many Mother Lode churches offer vacation Bible schools, which include arts, crafts, games and singing for various age groups.
For example, Sierra Bible Church runs a vacation bible school from June 25 through 29 for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Parents may register children up to fourth grade with a $10 donation. The donation for fifth- and sixth-graders is $25. For more information, call 532-1381, ext. 109, or visit www.sierrabible.com/2012-vacation-bible-school.
Another example is Calvary Chapel Sonora, which runs a Bible school for preschoolers through fifth-graders from June 18 through 21. For more information, call Becky Niven at 743-6896.
For other options, call a local church or pastor to see whether they offer vacation Bible school.