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Fend off summer boredom with Le Mars area youth activities

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Your kids are only a week into summer vacation and the exuberant smiles and excitement of being done with school are quickly being replaced with eye-rolls, sighs and the inevitable utterance of "I'm bored."

In an effort to keep the Le Mars area youth's summer active and exciting, I've taken it upon myself to uncover the opportunities in Le Mars that will entertain your child all summer long.

If you're searching for some exciting, blood-pumping opportunities for an active child, look no further than the local YMCA. During the summer months, the YMCA offers multiple programs for kids of all ages.

Is your child an aspiring cheerleader? The YMCA's summer danceline and cheer program teaches participants proper techniques for kicks and jumps. The kids will also learn chants and a choreographed dance routine.

So your child isn't exactly the cheering type. Maybe the all sports program would be a better fit. Twice a week your child can learn how to play a new sport, improve teamwork skills and make some new friends.

The swim team also provides another opportunity for keeping your child engaged and active during the summer months. Swimming offers great fitness benefits and provides a excellent cardiovascular workout. Swim team also motivates kids to compete individually to beat their own times and as a team in order to win the four scheduled meets.

"Swim team is a great experience for the kids," says head coach Heidi Middendorp, "they learn how to stay active, how to cheer for their team and also how to improve themselves."

"And it gets them out of bed early," laughs Middendorp.

If your child wants to be Andre Agassi or just thinks the bright green tennis balls are cool, summer tennis lessons at the YMCA might be a good summer time activity. The Y offers lessons for all skill levels, and summer is the perfect time to pick up a new sport or improve the skills your child already possesses.

If your child has already found a sport to love and simply wants to develop strength and endurance before the fall season begins, four weeks of weight training, cardio and agility drills will certainly get your 10- to 16-year old in shape for everything from competitive sports to physical education classes.

None of those activities really entice your child? How about floor hockey? Your child just might be the next Wayne Gretzky, and the YMCA offers a program that will foster those hockey skills while teaching the basics of the sport. The Y also offers soccer, football and girls volleyball camps to help kids develop their athletic abilities and teamwork skills.

The YMCA arranges several day camps throughout the summer for kids of all ages. The kids can build sandcastles, work on arts and crafts projects, go swimming and play sports.

If you would like more information or would like to register for any of the summer programs offered by the YMCA, stop by the YMCA or call 546-6655.

If sports and running aren't really your child's forte, participating in summer theater or a music camp offered at the Arts Center may curb the summer time boredom.

A Kindermusic class will be available for siblings age seven and under on Wednesday nights. The Arts Center will also host a paper and book making class for fourth- to sixth-grade students and a tie-dye class for second- to sixth-grade students.

"Anything we offer is generally well accepted," says Kathy Moore, Executive Director at the Arts Center.

"It's fun for the kids to be creative without getting graded for it," adds Moore.

To request more information or to enroll your child in any of these programs call 546-7476.

The library's summer reading program, 'Get a Clue at Your Library,' provides another option for stifling summer boredom while engaging your child's imagination. The program, designed for 3-year-olds to sixth-graders, allows kids to become super sleuths in order to solve a mystery, crack a code or find a treasure.

"In the past it's been very well received and well attended," says Lisa Vander Sluis, children's librarian. "We usually break up the time with a craft, snack or songs."

If your child is unable to attend the scheduled storytimes, the library offers a summer reading incentive that allows children to pick a prize for every five books they read and record this summer.

On July 20th, the library will host a finale that will include a performer and drawings for larger door prizes.

Registration opens May 29. Contact Robin Stevens or Lisa Vander Sluis at 546-5004 for more information or to register your child for the program.

If bugs, sunshine or frogs bring a smile to your child's face, Plymouth County Conservation's summer programs may be just the thing to keep the summer enjoyable.

A 'Wild Iowa' canoe trip on the Des Moines River is scheduled for high school students. The river travelers will explore, camp, canoe and learn as they paddle the river from June 21-24.

"The trip should be a lot of fun," says Victoria Shamblen who organizes the summer programs.

"It's only open to five students, so the first five who sign up are the ones who are going," adds Shamblen.

While most of its summer programing is full, Plymouth County Conservation still has some openings in the Tadpole workshop for first- and second-grade students who will be able to explore three habitats: woods, prairies and ponds.

The 'Wild Adventures' hunter's education overnight camp for middle school students also has some openings remaining.

The Big Sioux River Clean Up on July 21 provides an opportunity for the whole family to canoe and chat while removing trash from the river between Big Sioux Park and Akron.

Shamblen also notes that a few summer campground programs will be offered at Hillview throughout the summer months. The campers will participate in fun outdoor activities like going on night hikes and making ice cream.

Whatever outdoor activity your child chooses, Shamblen says, "The kids should plan on having fun, on learning something new, and on being outdoors."

To register for any of Plymouth County Conservation's summer programs, visit www.plymouthcountyparks.com or call 712-947-4270.

With all the summer youth programs in Le Mars, you and your child's biggest challenge is simply choosing which activity will keep the summer boredom at bay. Happy picking!



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