A Parent’s Summer Survival Guide

Friday May. 31st, 2013

campWith school coming to a close and three months of warm weather ahead, now is a perfect time to start thinking about activities to get you and the children out of the house in the weeks to come. Taking a walk or playing in the backyard are great ways to pass the time; however, organizations around town offer countless more activities, some of which are offered at a very low cost to you. Please note that this is just a starting place, and with a little research online or discussion with community members, you will be sure to find many other activities in addition to those featured here.

Summer camps are a great way to provide kids with a fun, educational summer and there are a wide variety of programs to choose from in the Bozeman area. Some options are listed here however there are many more camps available. Please do not forget to check registration deadlines when considering signing up for a camp and remember that spots are limited in most cases and may fill up quickly.

The local Boys and Girls Club offers 11 weeks of day camp for all school age children in an effort to meet its mission: “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential.” Each week provides children with a different theme, such as reading, science, history, and games. The first week of camp begins June 10 and the last ends on August 23. For more information, please visit bgcswmt.org/

Located on South Wilson, the Children’s Museum of Bozeman (CMB) will also host camps this year. Each program is a week long and runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Themes vary from Tinker Lab to Animals Unleashed and everything in between and are suited for children 5-12 years old.

Also, three mini camps for children between the ages of 3 and 5 will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on three dates during the summer. King Arthur’s Court, which will emphasize games, art projects and read-alouds, will be held June 17. On July 8 the museum will offer Superhero Adventure, where children will be able to investigate the world of superheroes. And Critter Camp will be held August 5 and focus on games, crafts and songs. Visit cmbozeman.org/camps/ for more information or call 522-0187 to register.

The Museum of the Rockies (MOR) is another museum which will sponsor summer camps in Bozeman. Geared towards children entering 1-5 grade, these camps will explore a range of topics closely related to the museum’s exhibits. Go to museumoftherockies.org/LearnPlay/ForKids.aspx for registration information.

Established nineteen years ago to encourage the community to get outside and learn about the environment, the Montana Outdoor Science School provides camps offered throughout the summer months for kids ages 4-13 and this summer’s programs will cover topics such as water, fossils and hiking. Visit outdoorscience.org/summercourses to view the camp schedule and register.

The Gallatin Valley YMCA will offer camps focused on being active this summer. In addition to sports camps, the organization will host those geared towards outdoor exploration and adventure, two of which will be held in June. Field and Stream Camp is available to youth in grades 2-5 and will run June 17 through 21. Taught by local professionals, children will learn the basics of fly fishing and archery. Held June 24 through 28, the Bike Camp will also be educational, introducing children to basic biking skills. For information about other YMCA camps, or to register, please visit gallatinvalleyymca.org/programs_athletics.php.

Both the CMB and MOR offer kid friendly exhibits during the summer months and a trip to the museum can be the perfect afternoon outing. Other museums to consider include the Pioneer Museum and the American Computer and Robotics Museum.

Currently on display at the Children’s Museum throughout the month of June, the Mirrors and Magnets exhibit includes hands-on activities which allow visitors to defy gravity, explore symmetry and even step inside an enormous kaleidoscope. Following this exhibit will be Animals, Animals!, which opens in July and will be on display through October. There will be a pretend vet clinic and videos from the Walker Art Center’s Cat Video Film Festival in addition to displays which focus on animal senses and adaptations. The herb and vegetable Earth Garden is maintained by the CMB’s summer campers and is available all summer for museum visitors to observe and explore as well.
The CMB also has activities for younger children and hosts Summer Story Picnics each Thursday at noon. These stories will take children ages 2-6 on an exciting journey through the universe of books. Experts from the Country Bookshelf will lead the way; all you need to bring is a picnic basket and a blanket.

Also catering to the interests of youth is the MOR, with interactive exhibits and detailed visuals. The Living History Farm, which opened for its 24th year on May 25 will be in operation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through September 1. A second popular exhibit for the kids is the Martin Children’s Discovery Center which was opened as a permanent exhibit in 2010. This exhibition is designed for children up to 8 years old and is based on the science of Yellowstone Park. With hands-on activities like pretending to fish, cook a meal, or set up a camp, children can explore Yellowstone. There is even a geyser and mud pots.
It won’t be hard to find activities which will get you and the kids outside and active this summer. Listed here are several events which might spark some interest.
On June 8 the CMB will host the Fifth Annual Peet’s Hill Hustle Family Fun Run and Obstacle Course. 9 a.m. will mark the start of the Classic 5K Hustle, 10 a.m. the 1/2K Toddler Sprint and 10:30 a.m. the 1K Kids Challenge. A new addition to the event this year, the Obstacle Course will be set up throughout the day and is appropriate for all ages. The cost is $25 for the 5K and $12 for the Kids Challenge and Toddler Sprints. To register for this event or get information about other races held in the valley, visit racemontana.com.

The Breakfast Optimist Club will be sponsoring a free youth fishing derby to also be held on June 8. Located at the Bozeman Ponds and available to children through the age of 13, the derby will begin with registration at 7:30 a.m. and fishing will get underway by 8:00 a.m. Participants should have their own equipment, however worms will be provided. Prizes will be awarded in five age groups.
Geocaching, an outdoor treasure hunting game which uses GPS coordinates to find the object, will be sponsored by the CMB on July 20th. Expert Lynn Powers will help children search for buried treasure from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For all age groups, this event is free with museum admission.

Remember, you don’t need a special event to get you and the kids outside and active. Plan a trip to a nearby park or take a walk downtown.

For information about parks in the area or to research more recreational activities going on in the area, visit infobozeman.com.

Jessianne Wright is an honors student at MSU and also writes for the MSU Exponent.