With the end of the school year just around the corner, time is running out to sign up kids for summer camps and programs.
From north to south Pinellas County, the options run the gamut – from more academically oriented programs intended to keep students sharp to camps that will introduce them to the arts and nature. Of course, there are plenty of options for having fun, too.
Pinellas County schools is offering an extensive, free summer school program meant to narrow the growing achievement gap among 12,000 low-income and minority students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The Summer Bridge program promises one-on-one tutoring, help making up coursework from the school year and a focus on science, technology, engineering, math and, above all, reading.
“It's almost like a camp instead of the stigma of a boring summer school,” said Director of Elementary Education Kathleen Young-Parker. “We’re hoping that science will be our hook because we’re offering science experiments and the whole program will be very hands-on.”
Free breakfast and lunch will be provided through the program, and the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County will offer some transportation to and from schools. Child care will be provided from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
More than 6,700 students already have signed up for the program, said school district spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra. Students will continue signing up in the coming weeks, and spaces are plentiful, she said. For information, go to http://bit.ly/YPKJxo.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers half- and full-day camps where students in kindergarten through 12th grade can scuba dive, kayak through local estuaries and interact with the famed Winter the dolphin. Camps start at about $189 for members and $229 for nonmembers and run from June 3 through Aug. 16. For information, go to www.seewinter.com, or call (727) 441-1790.
Kids between 4 and 14 can draw, dance or explore their dramatic sides at the Dunedin Fine Art Center from June 10 through Aug. 16, and children from 8 to 18 can work in the Largo Cultural Center productions of “Aladdin” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” from June 10 through July 22.
The Dunedin camps cost about $125 for members and $145 for nonmembers. For information, go to www.dfac.org or call (727) 298-3322. The Largo theater camps cost about $350. For information, go to www.largoarts.com or call (727) 587-6751.
Those looking to take to a bigger stage can enroll in Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Hoffman Institute, which offers various performing arts training to children ages 3 to 18. Classes start at about $135 per week and are offered from June 10 to July 26. Tuition assistance is available. For information, go to www.hoffmanperformingarts.org or call (727) 712-2706.
Children between 14 and 18 whose sights are set on the silver screen can work with film professionals at the Sunscreen Film Festival’s
Spend the summer relaxing at the Florida Fantasy Fishing Camp in St. Petersburg, where amateur anglers can learn tips and tricks from fishing professionals. The fishing camp runs from June 10 through Aug. 2 and is $650 per week. For information, go to www.fantasyfishingcamp.com or call (813) 244-4682.
Children between 9 and 14 who would rather learn how to protect Pinellas’ native wildlife can join Tampa Bay Watch’s Estuary EDventures, where they can work with the nonprofit in its effort to preserve marine habitats. Classes run from June 17 through Aug. 9 and start at $100 per week. For information, go to www.tampabaywatch.org or call (727) 867-8166, Ext. 246.
The St. Pete Beach Community Center will teach students in first through sixth grades the basics of beach sports, ranging from fishing to windsurfing, and take fieldtrips throughout the summer. Classes start at $95 for residents and $125 for nonresidents. For information, call (727) 363-9245 or go to www.stpetebeach.org.
Regular day care services such as R’ Club Child Care and the YMCA are offering a host of additional activities for summer throughout Pinellas County, including field trips and themed events.
“One day may be toilet paper day, where everyone has to create something out of toilet paper for a contest, or they may have bubble day where they do projects with bubbles,” said Terry Seidman, director of the R’ Club Early Learning Academy in Clearwater. “But we try to make sure they get out and explore the county because there’s always something going on.”
For information, go to http://rclub.net, www.ymcasuncoast.org or www.stpeteymca.org.