Explore, learn, interact during West Linn summer camps
While summer break might allow students to lounge around the house and flip through TV channels, it can also provide youth with hands-on outdoor opportunities and activities.
Children can learn sports fundamentals, go on local field trips, learn beginner-level coding or even hang upside down in trees on aerial apparatuses by signing up for a summer camp through the West Linn Parks and Recreation Department.
"(There are) opportunities for exploring interests without making a long-term commitment," said Terri Jones, recreation coordinator for the WL Parks and Recreation Department. "You can try different things out and have enriching experiences."
An old favorite that seems to be filling up quickly is the Aerial Dance Camp at Mary S. Young Park for ages 4-17.
This camp offers sessions for students who want to climb, fly, learn new aerial tricks, develop tumbling and dance skills, and younger students who want to become comfortable upside down, sideways and backwards, and develop basic body awareness and aerial skills.
"It's really very cool; it's really fun to watch," said Jones, adding that there are a couple openings in each session. "Kids seem to take to it quickly and look pretty accomplished."
Registration for the Paddle Sports Camps led by eNRG Kayaking, based in Oregon City, is also still open. This camp serves children up to 18 years old.
But one can't forget the traditional day camp.
Grayson Ollar, summer camp director for the Fun in the Sun camps for ages 6-12 and Shorty Sporty and Mini-Campers summer camps for ages 4-6, said these camps have weekly sessions and are open for registration.
Ollar said the two camps introduce younger children to camp life, and allow them to have an easier transition into camps when they're older.
The Shorty Sporty camps introduce children to various sports and basic drills and skills.
The Mini-Campers is a version of Fun in the Sun for younger children. While they don't go on field trips to amusement parks, wetlands or laser tag places like Fun in the Sun campers, the younger children still play games and listen to guest speakers.
For example, a local juggler recently made an appearance and a representative from Portland General Electric spoke to children about electricity safety.
But for Ollar, his favorite part about all of these camps is the counselor-camper interaction.
"I remember when I was a kid, going to summer camps, my favorite part was picking a favorite counselor, playing the games with them and always interacting with them," Ollar said. "They were the fun adults. They weren't there to get mad at me; they were there to play games with me."
Because these three camps are led by WL Parks and Recreation staff, Ollar said he encourages teens to volunteer.
"It's a really fun way to have new responsibilities. You can go get a job bagging groceries but at summer camp you're having fun with the kids," Ollar said. "You have this responsibility of watching the kids, making sure they're safe."
Ollar said drop-in registration for the three camps he oversees are allowed as long as they are not full.
Aside from summer camps offered through parks and rec, the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies (CREST) offers a few opportunities that are still available.
EnviroCamp — an explorative nature day camp for incoming first- through fifth-graders — has open spots for the July 30 to Aug. 3 session. The farm internship, where students entering grades 8-10 learn about sustainable farming, is not filled during its Aug. 6-16 session.
To learn more about these summer opportunities, visit www2.crest.wlwv.k12.or.us/register/.
For more information on WL summer camps and to register, visit https://westlinnoregon.gov/parksrec/youth-camps-classes-and-activities. There is also an application on the website for financial assistance.