Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat

Worried your child will turn into a couch potato this summer?

Don't fear - there are plenty of options for keeping kids occupied, reminding them of what they learned in school and helping them find new interests.

This year they can choose from music and theater camps, classes taught by local artists, youth soccer, a variety of Tuolumne County Recreation Department activities and more.

New this summer are a set of summer science camps offered by the Calaveras County Office of Education for students in grades 6 through 8.

The weeklong programs teach about energy use and are part of a broader initiative to strengthen instruction in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Some activities, like the Central Sierra Arts Council's summer camp in Columbia, filled before their deadlines this year. Most others have spots left, but they're going fast.

The following is a sampling of summer activities still open to students in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties this year:

Recreation Department Programs

The Tuolumne County Recreation Department offers a range of summer activities, including swimming lessons and sports camps.

The registration periods for most programs will start Monday, but they differ for swimming lessons by location. All programs fill on a first-come, first-served basis.

A full recreation department summer guide will be published as a Union Democrat insert Tuesday.

New this year is a baseball camp at Standard Park for students ages 8 through 15. The cost for the program, which will run June 24 through 28, is $75.

A soccer camp will take place June 10 through 13 and is open to students ages 7 through 18. The cost is $45.

For 3-year-olds and preschoolers, the Sonora Tiny Tots program has two upcoming sessions. The next will begin Monday and end June 27. Fees for two days per week of the program are $124.75, and the cost for four days per week is $249.50.

The Recreation Department is currently seeking lifeguards. Students interested in becoming a lifeguard should call the department immediately. They must be at least 15 years old by the time they finish training.

For more information on any Tuolumne County Recreation Department program, call 533-5663.

Columbia College Sports Programs

The Columbia College Health and Human Performance Department will host four youth camps this summer - two in basketball and two in volleyball.

A "Basketball Academy" for students in grades 3 through 10 will take place June 10 through 12 and again July 8 through 10.

The three-hour classes begin every day at 9 a.m. in the Oak Pavilion, featuring both individual instruction and game experience. Their primary instructor will be Rob Hoyt, Columbia's new head men's basketball coach.

An intermediate volleyball clinic for fifth through eighth-graders will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 17 through 19. An advanced clinic for high schoolers is scheduled for the same times from June 24 through 26.

Registration fees for all four programs are $50. For more information, call 588-5180 or visit

Youth Soccer

Children ages 3 to 18 can participate in summer soccer camps and recreational soccer leagues.

The Tuolumne County Youth Soccer League's "Challenger British Soccer Camp" will take place July 22 through July 26 and again from July 29 through Aug. 2. Fees range from $25 to $125, depending on the activity.

For more information, call 532-KICK (532-5425) or visit

In Calaveras County, the Ebbetts Pass Youth Soccer League offers the four-day Bear Valley Soccer Camp for children ages 9 through 16. They include professional instruction from Santa Clara University coaches, as well as kayaking and rock climbing.

The cost for the residential camp is $695, including three nights in Base Camp Lodge. A day camp, which requires students to stay at home or arrange their own lodging, costs $475. The camps take place July 16 to 19.

For more information, visit


The Gold Country Music Day Camp will take place this year from July 15 through 19 at Columbia Elementary School, culminating in a concert performance on July 19.

The camp is open to Tuolumne County sixth- through ninth-graders, and the fee is $75. The final deadline for registering is June 28. After June 7, the fee will go up to $100.

Students must have or rent their own instruments.

For more information or a registration form, call Sonora High band teacher Yvonne Denton at 532-5511, ext. 451, or email

The Central Sierra Arts Council's Kids Art Studies Academy, or KASA, is offering a music class for students ages 8 through 12. Called "Orff Schulwerk - The Language of Music," it will be taught by visual and performing arts specialist Louise McPeeters.

KASA is also hosting "Ukulele for Beginners and Up" for everyone ages 9 and older. It will be taught by Peg Reza, founder of the Blue Shoes Auxiliary Ukulele Orchestra, and run on Wednesdays from June 26 through July 31. Ukuleles will be provided.

For more information on KASA classes, call 532-2787 or visit

Visual Arts

The Kids Art Studies Academy, which opened last year, is offering a variety of art classes this year for both children and adults. Instructors are local artists who work in a variety of media.

One class, "Creative Cultures Explored," will take place every Monday and Wednesday from June 24 through July 10. Open to ages eight and older, it will be taught by local artists Tracy Knopf and Susan Kelleher.

In "Creative Cultures" classes, which can be taken individually or as a whole set, students will learn about famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Projects include painting in the style of Jackson Pollock, "reverse graffiti," and assemblage with recycled or thrown-away objects.

Local artist Michele Tennant will teach "Comic Book Creation" for students ages 8 through 18. Her classes will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 25 to July 16.

Finally, Irene Taylor, another local artist, will teach two watercolor courses. A class for adults will take place July 30 through Aug. 1, teaching drawing, composition and painting.

A watercolor class for ages 8 and up will take place Aug. 6 through 8 and teach students the observational skills of an artist.

Course fees vary. For more information on any KASA class, call the Central Sierra Arts Council at 532-2787 or visit

Library Programs

Public libraries offer a variety of free activities for kids. The Sonora Main Library will kick off summer activities with its annual "Fun in the Sun" event June 18 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, featuring games, crafts and more.

Special programs will take place at the library every Wednesday, and June 19, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. They include art, music and other activities featuring local artists and teachers.

Other programs are still being organized. All will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis, with tickets available one hour before each event.

The Tuolumne County Library also offers an incentive program to reward kids for reading over the summer.

Children of all ages are eligible to participate, even if they listen to stories being read to them, and can earn prizes for every two hours of reading time.

Kids who read or are read to for six hours will receive a ticket to a pool party being held Aug. 3 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sonora High pool.

For more information on the Tuolumne County Library's summer programs, call 533-5507.

For information about children's activities and summer reading programs at the eight branches of the Calaveras County Library, call 754-6706.


The Mountain Youth and Community Theatre, formerly Sonora Children's Theater and Meyer Hideout, will host two six-week "Summer Hideout" camps this summer for students in fifth grade through age 17.

The first session, scheduled for June 17 through July 22, culminates in a production of "A Music Man." The second session will take place June 24 through July 29 and end with a production of "The Little Mermaid."

Another Mountain Youth and Community Theater program, "Pipsqueaks Summer Camp," is geared toward first- through fourth-graders. It will start June 17 and end July 12 with a showcase.

Spaces are still available in both programs, but filling up quickly. Fees are $380 for "Pipsqueaks Summer Camp" and $450 for "Hideout." For more information, call 874-6408 or visit

In Calaveras County, the Murphys Creek Theater offers the "Mirror Project," billed as "an intensive Shakespearean training and performance experience for students ages 9 to 17."

The program will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 1 through July 26. It includes classes voice and movement, stage combat, dance and more, finishing with a full-length production of "Much Ado About Nothing."

The deadline for joining the Mirror Project is June 21, with tuition of $300 per student. For more information, call 728-8422 or visit

High school and college students may also enroll in a Central Sierra Arts Council class called "The Actor: From Page to Stage," taught by Connections Visual and Performing Arts Academy instructor Richard Kuebler.

Kuebler's class will take place July 9 through July 25. For more information, call 532-2787 or visit

Science Camp

The "Mad About Science" camp at Columbia College is already full, butother science camps have cropped up this year.

The new "STEM Summer Camps" are a joint project of the Calaveras County Office of Education, the San Joaquin County Office of Education and the Da Vinci Center for Innovative Learning.

The camps focus on energy harvesting, including wind, water and solar energy. Students will be divided into teams and design an energy-harvesting device with the help of a high school student mentor. They will also take field trips to energy generation sites.Camps are offered in three sessions, each with the same content: One from June 17 through 21 at the Calaveras River Academy in San Andreas, one from June 24 through 28 at Valley Springs Elementary School and another from July 8 through 12 at Avery Middle School.

All camps run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m every day. The cost is $150, and payment must be received by June 7. Calaveras County students will be given first priority to register.

For more information, visit

The Calaveras County Office of Education is seeking business partners to help fund the full cost of the camps, which exceed student fees. To become a sponsor, call Calaveras County Superintendent of Schools Kathy Northington at 736-6008.