Parents, kids get an early peek at summer options

People look at displays for sumer programs during the 2013 Summer Activities Fair at Westwood Middle School in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Brett Le Blanc/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.

Kids may always like being in a candy store best, but the camp store Saturday at Westwood Middle School was pretty sweet too.

Represented at the Summer Activities Fair sponsored by the Westwood PTA were 32 vendors that provide summer camps — from the YMCA’s traditional Camp McConnell with canoeing and campfires to the first-ever Camp 4Ward for children with learning disabilities or behavior disorders.

“What I love is just the variety — a lot of sports, the Hippodrome, arts,” said PTA President Pam Harrison. “Nowadays, parents string together camps for their children. One week it may be volleyball camp and the next week something else. Today they can hopefully get an idea of what their summer is going to look like.”

If Ana Sanchez has her way, it will look like horses. Ana, 10, was with her mom, Liz Sanchez, and sister Sophie, 11, at the booth of Dreamstone Farm, an equestrian camp in Jonesville.

Ana has ridden in the past, loves horses and wants to ride them some more.

“It’s fun. I was at a summer camp where you ride horses for a week,” Ana said. “The horses were really nice. I’d like to do a camp this summer.”

Liz Sanchez said the family moved to Gainesville from Tampa that start of the school year and plan to take advantage this area’s more rural environment.

She added the family is involved with the Makos swim club, which also had a booth regarding its summer camps.

One new camp this year is Paper Play by artist Patrick Grigsby, who is an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida.

Paper Play campers will take waste paper such as receipts and turn it into large, multidimensional projects such as the shark he had on display.

Parents will be able to monitor the progress of their children through daily updates online, Grigsby said.

“It’s all household paper, rubber cement, stenciling,” Grigsby said. “The kids will get a sketchbook and learn a little bit about color theory. I want them making big art. The group will decide if they want to make a dinosaur, a spaceship, an Incan temple.”

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