Summer camps help youth battle boredom
Children play basketball in the all-purpose room at the youth center.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 7, 2012) -- Since last August, the children of Fort Rucker have been busy with math, history, science and English assignments. But now that school is out, many of those children have to find something else to keep them busy.

Summer camp, offered by child, youth and school services, could be exactly what they need.

CYSS summer camp options are divided into two age groups. School Age Summer, from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., is for children ages 6-10. The Middle School Teen camp, for ages 11-18, is from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., but MST participants can stay at the youth center until 6 p.m. through the free Open Rec program.

The camps include a variety of activities at the youth center as well as field trips to Panama City Beach, the Center Library, the Wiregrass Museum of Art, the U.S. Army Aviation Museum, Lake Tholocco and more.

We have to keep them busy," explained Eugene Johnson, CYSS facilities director. "If we don't keep them busy, the kids get bored quick."

The youth center has 15 computers, Internet connectivity, computer games, and several Xbox and Wii consoles. It also has an arts and crafts room where children can learn quilting, crocheting, embroidery and other skills, as well as an all-purpose room where children can play basketball and other games.

Staff members also host various types of tournaments throughout the summer, Johnson said.

Children enrolled in the MST program can participate in even more activities. The program's summer calendar includes archery, sports and fitness, technology, robotics, renewable energy, dramatic arts and culinary arts, according to Linda Ivy, MST director.

According to Johnson, parents can pay by the week through the summer.

"If you're going out of town next week -- so you'll be here this week but you won't be here next week -- you need to pay the Friday before," he said. "Then, if you're not coming back, you don't have to worry about it."

The fee is scaled based on income, but it ranges from $40 to $111 for SAS and $20 to $55 for MTS.

"Parents are paying for child care," Johnson said. "They're not paying for the field trips. We pay for the field trips."

"Everything is included," Ivy explained.

When not involved in a scheduled activity, such as a tournament or field trip, children are free to visit whatever youth center activity they wish. When children are enrolled, their names are printed on a color-coded card and laminated. Children carry the cards with them and place them in a card holder on the door of each activity room. When they leave one room and go to another, the card goes with them.

"This is so we know where the kids are at all times and we know how many kids we have in the room," Johnson said. "Everywhere you see kids, we've got staff."

Johnson said the youth center activities are open to all the children involved in summer camp, but the teens have a room for themselves and the field trips are divided into smaller age groups.

For example, the 6-8 year olds may visit the Center Library on Tuesday and the 9-10 year olds may visit on Thursday of the same week. The same principle also applies to the MST program. A group of younger teens may visit Gulf World on Wednesday; then the older teens make the trip on Friday.

"We just try to get them out of the building," Johnson said.

Summer camp started June 4 but weekly registration is open through the summer. For more information or to register for the camp, call 255-9108 or 255-9127.

Page last updated Thu June 7th, 2012 at 12:16