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FAMILY   -   EDUCATION & ENRICHMENT
Fun Summer Solutions for Kids Activities, Childcare and More
June, 2007 - Issue #32
Summertime will bring a handful of near-absolutes to the Santa Clarita Valley. Ants will invade kitchens. Lawns will turn brown. Electricity bills will break hearts.

One of the tradeoffs is that the valley's children will be home from school. For parents, that means no math homework to correct, no reports to edit and no practice spelling tests to give.

And for the kids, summer is practically paradise. What's better than week after week of no schedules, no classrooms and no homework?

The answer to that question depends, however, on what you do with the free time. A week or two of nothing on the heels of a busy school year is great. But the summer is long; too much of nothing can become, well, boring. And childcare sometimes becomes an issue for parents who still maintain their 9 to 5 through the summer months.

What to do?

The good news for Santa Clarita Valley children (and parents) is there are options - perhaps more than you know. Here are a few worth considering.

MOUNTASIA

What's most unique about Mountasia is its variety. It may be the only place in the SCV where families can go for a full day of entertainment without blowing a week's salary.

Miniature golf, videogames and cart races. Bumper boats, rock wall climbing and laser tag. Mountasia has it all.

"Mountasia is good for all ages," says Mountasia's Courtney Bourdas-Henn. "We have everything you need for a day of fun, and there's no entrance fee. Mom and Dad can come with their children and not have to pay [for themselves] unless they want to partake."

All summer, kids can take advantage of Mountasia's unlimited play option, where a wristband gives them carte blanche for an entire day. Parents of children 10 years and older can drop them off for a full day of fun.

Bourdas-Henn says videogames continue to be the most popular attraction among youngsters, but weather can affect that.

"In the summer months, when it's 110 degrees outside - our bumper boats have squirt guns," she says. "It's hysterical to watch people try to nail each other."

For more information call 253-4386.

SANTA CLARITA BALLET

Another intriguing option - especially for aspiring dancers - is the SC Ballet. Its regular classes actually mirror the traditional school year, but even in the summer you have options.

"We do two highly-intensive workshops during the summer," says company co-owner Jennifer Franco. "We offer something year round."

The SC Ballet is the valley's lone premier ballet company. It follows the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), which means it teaches students the same techniques taught at the world's most prestigious companies.

It also offers Creative Movement classes once a week for children 3 and younger.

SC Ballet feature two distinct options: The SC Ballet Academy, which teaches children how to dance, and the SC Ballet Company, which puts on a pair of performances (including the Nutcracker) a year at the College of the Canyon Performing Arts Center.

"The academy is for beginners of any age," Franco says. "You have to try out for the company... this is a great way to develop athletically and artistically."

SC Ballet is a non-profit organization, which means it's affordable.

"You can come here and feel like you're a part of a legitimate arts community," says Franco. "That's very special."

For more information call 251-0366.

HOT YOGA

Studio co-owner Catherine Sjolund, a Special Education credentialed teacher with 13 years of experience, is also a certified yoga instructor.

At Hot Yoga, she's combined her two passions to create a program to help children who face emotional and physical challenges - a program known as yoga therapy.

"What's better than week after week of NO SCHEDULES, NO CLASSROOMS AND NO HOMEWORK?"
"Through yoga therapy, you can help children regulate their bodies," Sjolund says. "You can teach them to calm themselves, to have self-control."

According to Sjolund, yoga therapy also helps develop social skills, and she also incorporates a nutritional component to teach her students to eat right.

"Children with ADHD are affected by what they eat," she says. "Nutrition makes a big difference."

Sjolund believes in tailoring the weeklong sessions around the needs of her students, so she meets with families beforehand for a special consultation. The more she knows, the more she can help.

"I have a heart for these kids because they have hearts of gold," she says. "If you believe in them, they can do anything."

For more information call 257-9955.

DON-E-BROOK FARMS

What child doesn't dream of riding horses?

In the SCV, at least, those dreams can become a summer reality at Don-E-Brook Farms.

Don-E-Brook offers provides lessons in English and Western riding, jumping, gymkhana and trail riding, to name a few.

And yes, they offer a summer camp.

Through one of four weeklong summer sessions, children can spend their mornings learning to ride and even groom a horse. They also play games on horseback and go on supervised trail rides.

Don-E-Brook Farms offers lessons taught for all levels, so sessions are for everyone. You can even bring your own horse... but you don't have to.

For more information call 297-7669.

KIDSART

Most parents at least consider helping their children learn to play a musical instrument. Why not consider teaching them to draw and paint?

According to the experts at KidsArt in Valencia, anyone can learn. You just need the right teachers.

"We have been teaching students, ages 4 years through adults, for 21 years," says KidsArt's Sher Warren. "We have dedicated ourselves to maintaining a high level of integrity in our program so that our students have an opportunity to learn classical realism."

KidsArt offers special classes all summer where kids can learn to draw figures, animation and even sculpt with paper. KidsArt will even teach them to create art with watercolor, pastels and acrylic paint.

And they are experts.

Think you might have a little Monet living under your roof, or maybe just someone who loves to draw? KidsArt may be a great place for the little artist in your home to spend some time this summer.

"Our philosophy is that mastery of fundamental skills is necessary for students to have the opportunity to create art at any level they desire," says Warren. "KidsArt offers a high-quality fine art education, primarily teaching drawing and painting... students are taught on an individualized basis with students moving forward based on their own progress in our program."

Sound interesting? KidsArt offers a free introductory class for folks on the fence.

For more information call 260-1774.

WALLERS' GYMJAM ACADEMY

Formerly known as the SCV School of Gymnastics, Wallers' GymJam Academy is the place to go to be trained by the experts.

How expert? How about 1992 Olympian and 2004 Olympic coach Chris Waller and his wife, Cindy?

Wallers' GymJam Academy has something for children of every age and level (ages 3 to high school), from Lil' Jammers (parent and me through pre-school), to tumbling to kids' fitness to a tri-level GymJam academy.

"We have kids who come once a week just for recreation to kids who are here to compete for a college scholarship," says Cindy Waller. "We run the whole gamut."

Wallers' even offers night gym jams for kids who want to do something a little different, and for parents who might enjoy a date night.

From the end of June through mid August, the academy offers a series of four weeklong camps, where kids can spend their days learning (or practicing) gymnastics and doing arts and crafts.

"It's a great way to get a taste of what we do here," Waller says.

For young children (3-6), camps runs all week, 9 a.m. to noon. For the older crowd, camp is in session until 3 p.m.

"We also have Tuesday/Thursday and Monday/Wednesday/Friday options," Waller says. "And you can come to camp for more than just a week. Our goal is to help the kids reach their potential."

For more information call 251-3390.

CREATIVE YEARS

Creative Years is unique because it's always offering something new. All summer, for example, children can spend a week at a time playing in the mud, pretending to be pirates or turning the room into a full-scale campsite.

Creative Years attaches themes to weekly "camps" that run from June through August. Enroll your child in one or two or let them experience them all. It's up to you.

"Everything the children do here is hands on," says Katri Tyni. "When we do mud and glue week, for instance, they will be getting there hands in the mud!"

Ever wished you could bring your teddy bear to school? You can during July's Teddy Bear week. Ever wanted to turn a classroom into a prehistoric dinosaur playground? Sign up for "Dinosaur Delight."

How about a week of learning to garden or a weeklong space camp, or a snow day in July?

Winter in July is very popular," Tyni says. "We bring snow to the school, and everything is related to winter. It's always very exciting for the kids, and they are still learning."

For more information call 254-0718.

SUNSHINE CHILD CARE

Sunshine is a name most parents recognize when it comes to preschool. But did you know Sunshine also offers summer day camp?

Like Sunshine's school-year programs, summer camp comes in packages suited to your child's age, all based on Sunshine's commitment to training a child's heart and helping build character, along with social skills, in an environment that's safe and fun.

"The best thing about Sunshine is our people," says founder Tim Bourell. "Our counselors are people of character, trained in the Sunshine way. We have fun in a safe, structured environment. And it's a blast in the summertime."

Sunshine has been offering summer camp for more than 20 years, so experience is on their side.

"We're really experts at it," Bourell says.

Preschool Camp (age 3 to pre-kindergarten) runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features an array of themes (wild wild west, Sunshine Olympics, etc.), along with cooking projects, games, music and movement, arts and crafts and, of course, story time.

The next age group up is Kinder Camp, which is aimed at giving kindergartners creative options for the summer, including special field trips to the L.A. Zoo and Maggie Moo's.

Children heading into grades first through sixth can attend Adventure Camp, which will keep them interested and entertained all summer with field trips twice a week (Magic Mountain, Disneyland, Long Beach Aquarium...) water play, crafts and special guest entertainment.

Finally, there's Travel Camp (kids entering grade fourth through ninth). Travel Camp is all about, well, travel. Field trips occur three times a week and even include day trips to Frazier Park and San Diego. Travel campers also spend one week camping under the stars in the mountains and one week in San Diego.

Travel Camp will make sure your tween never wakes up and wonders, "How much longer until school starts?"

For more information call 257-7737.
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