York County summer camps offer youngsters fun, skills

Special to The HeraldApril 7, 2013 

The Walczak boys can’t wait to explore the Anne Springs Close Greenway, practice their archery and learn new sports. Trio Belton is excited to roller skate, rock climb and swim. The Railey sisters are ready to sew a skirt together.

It’s spring in York County, yet the kids are already looking forward to summer camp – a place to meet new and see old friends, try something new and improve skills. Now is the time for parents to find the perfect camp for June, July and August.

‘Old-fashioned Goodness’

Mimi Walczak of Fort Mill looks to the Greenway, Leroy Springs Recreation Complex and Winthrop University for camps for her three sons. Ben and Jack, 7-year-old twins, and Ryan, 10, enjoy the variety of camp choices offered through Springs.

“My kids have had such unbelievable experiences there, experiences that I am sure they will remember with great fondness when they grow up,” said Walczak, who enjoys the sense of community at the complex and the photos she receives of her boys at the one-week camps.

“The people there know my kids. It’s old-fashioned goodness in today’s world.”

A past favorite is Jr. Police, taught by Fort Mill police officers. The boys learned about the law, police procedures and forensics while working on team building, leadership and conflict resolution. Her boys loved the obstacle course and K-9 unit. Walczak signed them up to attend the camp again this year.

“It’s a phenomenal camp,” she said. “Those officers are amazing that they give up their time to do that.”

At the Greenway, the boys enjoyed the ropes course, kayaking, archery and hiking. They plan to do it again this summer, in addition to an ultimate sports camp at the complex.

Jack will attend Lego camp, and Ryan is going to improve his lacrosse skills at a three-day camp in Tega Cay that is taught by John Sung, Winthrop University’s women’s head coach.

“They need to try different things so they can find their true interests,” she said.

Swim and skate

Trio Belton, 7, and his sister, Sydnee, 5, are looking forward to 10 weeks of summer day camp at the Boys & Girls Club at the Northside Club in Rock Hill.

Their mother, Tonya, a Fort Mill resident who is a club board member, likes the camp for its mix of physical activity, academics and social skills.

Trio enjoys roller skating through the club’s field trips, playing basketball in the gym, rock climbing and swimming. He hopes to reach the top of the wall this summer and swim the length of the pool by himself. It will be his third year at camp.

Sydnee is a camp rookie. “She’s going to learn some independence,” Belton said. “She attended preschool, but this will be a lot more kids in a setting. She’s going to make a variety of types of friends.”

Belton, who works full-time, also likes the day camp for its diversity.

“No. 1, it’s safe. That’s the utmost,” she said. “Two, it’s affordable. Three, they learn so many different social skills. They learn how to interact and deal with different people.”

Ready to sew

The Railey girls are ready for advanced sew camp through 4-H at the York County Extension Office in York.

Maleah, 16, and Karah, 12, attended the beginner classes last summer and have been sewing all year. This summer, the girls are making skirts with zippers over the four-day camp.

“They are both excited about learning how to do that,” said Dawn Railey, their mother who likes that 4-H teaches practical skills. “They are excited to wear their work.”

Last year, the sisters learned basic sewing and completed shorts with elastic waistbands. Both enjoy the challenge of learning a new hobby, Railey said.

“When they make it themselves, they are proud of it and what they have accomplished,” she said. “It’s a fun time, and they get to practice a life skill.”

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