It May Be March, But It's Time To Plan.
Okay, okay, I know we’ve just dealt with another winter storm, and there’s enough snow on the ground to make it look as if winter is starting, not winding down. In a few months, however, school will be ending, and parents will be sending their kids off to camp sessions for activities that stimulate the mind, body, and spirit. Fortunately for Upper Valley parents, our region has a wide range of camps and classes available for the area’s youth. The following are just a few of the summer camp options available to Upper Valley parents and kids.
The Montshire Museum in Norwich is a favorite destination for parents and kids throughout the year. During the summer, the Montshire offers over 40 weeklong activity sessions for youth aged four to fourteen. According to Amy VanderKooi, director of the Montshire’s summer camp sessions, over 400 young people take part in the summer sessions each year.
Not surprisingly, the Montshire’s summer youth sessions focus on both environmental and physical sciences. VanderKooi, who has headed up the summer program for many years, says some of the most popular offerings include the Outdoor Discovery sessions, geared for those entering first and second grades. Always interested in providing new options, VanderKooi says this year they will offer a new session for middle school students, called Science Stories. Students in this program will study a science related subject, and develop a podcast or radio program based on their studies.
Each summer session offered by the Montshire runs for one week, and is supervised by a staff member, or one or more of the many instructors recruited by the Montshire. “We hire a whole crew to work in summer,” says VanderKooi, adding that many of the hires are young adults, aged 20 to 25.
Registration for the summer sessions happens online at the Montshire’s website. VanderKooi says many sessions fill up quickly, so early registration is a good idea. Still, it is possible to find openings as we get closer to summer.
Crossroads Academy in Lyme is in their third year of offering a summer program for the area’s youth. Heather Verheeck, the director of Crossroads Academy’s summer program, says this year there are 32 different sessions from which parents and their children can choose. The summer sessions each last for one week, with the entire summer program covering a total of nine weeks.
Though Crossroads Academy students certainly can register for any summer session, Verheeck is quick to point out that the summer program sessions are open to anyone. Students from around the Upper Valley, and beyond, take part in the summer sessions. The summer program is geared to three age groups; three to five, six to nine, and nine to thirteen year olds.
Summer sessions run the gamut from physical activities to scholarly pursuits, says Verheeck. Along with their tried and true sessions, new offerings this year at Crossroads Academy include the Junior STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Discovery program, geared for the six to nine year olds, and the Kayaking and Watershed Awareness program for the nine to thirteen year old group. These classes, as with all Crossroads’ summer offerings, are limited to 15 students.
All of the summer sessions at Crossroads Academy start at 9am, and end at 3:30pm. For parents with longer workdays, Verheeck says Crossroads offers an extended stay option. Parents may drop students off as early as 8am, and pick them up as late as 5pm, as Crossroads offers supervision of the students before and after the day’s session.
Registration for the summer sessions at Crossroads is underway; visit their website for more information, and registering.
Have a student interested in live theater? Northern Stage offers summer sessions for those interested in performing, and working behind the scenes.
Ruby Summers, the director of sales and marketing, says Northern Stage offers two summer camps in June for youth; Fables and Fairy Tales for six to eight year olds, and Broadway Bound for those aged nine to twelve. In Fables and Fairy Tales, students learn story-telling techniques, and use their imaginations, while coming up with their own fairy tale, which they perform at the end of the weeklong session, in front of their families. Broadway Bound brings together a professional music director and choreographer team, who instruct students in song, dance, and acting, using scenes from well-known Broadway musicals. Again, this session culminates in a performance before families.
Northern Stage also offer a Technical Apprentice Program for those 14 to 18 year olds interested in learning the ins and outs of working behind the scenes in areas such as wardrobe, stage building, lighting, and sound. This program, which runs from late June till the end of July, allows student apprentices to assist with Northern Stage’s summer musical production.
Information about the sessions, and registering for them, is available online at Northern Stage’s website.
Have a child interested in horses and riding? The Round Robin Farm in Tunbridge, VT might be the way to go. This farm offers ten weeks of riding camps throughout the summer, beginning in mid June, and running until late August. Round Robin Farm, owned and operated by Pat and Steve Read, has offered summer riding camps for 25 years. In 2017, Round Robin Farm moved from South Royalton to its’ new home in Tunbridge (the former Silver Maple Icelandic Pony Farm). The farm, operated by the Read family for many years, “is a real family affair,” says Pat Read. Bekki Read, an accomplished upper level event rider (and the daughter of Pat and Steve Read), heads up the riding instruction duties at the summer camps.
Students from ages eight to eighteen attend the summer camps, and “come from all over,” to attend, says Pat Read. Most are beginner to novice level riders, interested in improving their skill level. Those attending the summer sessions are not day campers; they stay in the Reads’ home at the farm during their session. Each weeklong session averages about eight campers, says Pat Read, with many of the campers staying two or three weeks for instruction.
The farm has about 20 to 25 horses available to riders, with the animals ridden rotated on a regular basis. The 200 acre farm offers year-round boarding, training and lessons, with an indoor and outdoor riding ring on site.
Visit the farm’s website for more information, and to register for the summer riding camps.