Abbie Grayce and Mason Panther can’t wait to dig in the dirt. The Sumter brothers are excited to swim and play capture the flag. Jack Walczak is pursuing art at clay creations camp, while his brothers shoot hoops at basketball camp.
It’s springtime in York County, but kids already are looking forward to summer camp – a place to met new friends, see old pals, try something new and improve their skills.
Now is the time for parents to find the perfect camps to fill in the 10-week summer break of June, July and half of August.
“Summer camps do keep us all busy, but it makes the summer more fun and memorable for everyone,” said Mimi Walczak, who mixes favorite camps from years past with new camps so her boys try different activities.
In all, they are each signed up for two camps in June and two in July.
Nine-year-old twins Jack and Ben, and Ryan, 11, are all going to Junior Police camp again this year. Taught by Fort Mill police officers, the boys learn about the law, police procedures and forensics while working on team building, leadership and conflict resolution. The popular camp, held at the Leroy Springs Recreation Complex, has already filled up.
Jack has shown an interest in art and being creative, so Walczak signed him up for local artist Bob Doster’s clay camp at the complex.
“I sign my kids up for camps to give them opportunities that they don’t typically have during the school year,” Walczak said. “I hope that with each camp experience, they have an opportunity to learn something new, experience something different that is outside their everyday norm.”
The boys also will attend Adventure Seeker camp at the Greenway, a perennial favorite where campers kayak, hike and – most anticipated – practice archery.
Sports are important to the boys. Ben and Ryan are attending football camp at Nation Ford High School, as well as the Pat Kelsey Basketball Camp at Winthrop University. Jack is trying a new soccer camp this year that is taught by professional athletes.
Walczak tries to coordinate with other moms so the boys have a few friends at camp with them.
“Everything is more fun with a friend,” she said.
Takita Sumter, an associate professor of chemistry at Winthrop University, has signed up her children for Discovery Quest at Fewell Park, a summer-long day camp run by the Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.
It will be the third year for Cameron, 10, and first for Braxton, who turns 6 in May. Sumter likes the camp for its size, counselor-to-camper ratio and good mix of physical, creative and intellectual activities.
“The schedule was extensive and based on various themes that were fun, but educational,” Sumter said. “For instance, they made their own ovens and used them to bake a healthy snack using sunlight.”
Cameron has enjoyed swimming and playing capture the flag. The counselors use positive discipline approaches, Sumter said, and they take time to really play with the campers and relate to the parents which fosters a sense of community.
Also offered through the city’s PRT is the Outdoor Adventure Club, a half-day program on Tuesdays designed to get children outdoors. Campers visit different parks in Rock Hill to explore nature, play games and stay active.
Jennifer Panther, 39, who owns Financially Focused in Rock Hill, has enrolled her children – 7-year-old Mason and 8-year-old Abbie Grayce. Both enjoyed camp last year and so did their mother.
“It is organized well and it keeps the children motivated and active,” Panther said. “They were completely exhausted when I picked them up at the end of the day.”
Mason loved the activities, digging in the dirt and seeing bugs. Abbie Grayce enjoyed taking nature walks, doing projects and creating artwork.
“We are strong in not sitting around in the summer, doing nothing,” Panther said. “This keeps them active and focused so it’s not such an adjustment when they go back to school.”