Sports

Plenty of summer activities at South End parks

South Whidbey Parks & Recreation coach Sami Todoroff guides some very young folks through the mysteries of soccer at the complex on Langley Road. Professional coaches teach the fundamentals in the Kidz Love Soccer program this summer. - Jeff VanDerford
South Whidbey Parks & Recreation coach Sami Todoroff guides some very young folks through the mysteries of soccer at the complex on Langley Road. Professional coaches teach the fundamentals in the Kidz Love Soccer program this summer.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

It’s that time again — school’s almost out and kids all over South Whidbey are planning to spend the summer achieving the next level of their video games.

But it doesn’t have to be that way: South Whidbey Parks & Recreation has a better idea.

“We offer a neat way to keep kids outdoors and active,” said director Art Burke. “Our program base is evolving; the public wants more diversity and we’re bringing it to them.”

Last year, the park district sent out a survey asking South Enders what they like and don’t like, and were astounded when almost 25 percent responded.

“People told us they want more programs related to nature and environmental education,” Burke said. “They want their kids to have fun, but if a little learning is in the mix, that’s a big positive.”

To that end, the district’s summer activity guide has a page full of nature-related classes for the whole family, from butterfly ambles to bird-watching to a celebration of South End trails — all free of charge.

Several years ago, naturalists Steve and Martha Ellis were asked to conduct nature walks. They couldn’t then, but Burke was persistent.

“We just couldn’t turn them down,” Steve Ellis said. “We like getting people out to explore nature. Knowledge equals concern which leads to action. The more they know, the better.”

Exploring nature is fine, but sometimes kids just want to get down and play. There’s a water ski/wakeboard class, one day devoted to canoeing and a special venue for future NASA scientists — the model rockets camp will allow youngsters a chance to design, build and launch an electric ignition rocket equipped with the always indispensable recovery parachute.

Sports camps run by pros will teach the fundamentals of football, basketball and baseball. The Skyhawks program will provide golf and soccer instruction where kids learn skills and basic team strategies.

There are also ample offerings for tennis players, for the young and not-so-young.

One class is for ages 5 to 11, another for those who want to develop skills to become more confident in match play.

And then there’s Cardio Tennis for tennis fanatics of any age. New to the Parks & Recreation District, the class includes a warm-up, heart-healthy workout and cool down to music.

The always popular summer day camp returns with lots of fun for kids but with a twist.

“The camp is starting to head in a new direction,” camp director Stephanie Pierce said. “We’re going to always have fun, but in response to the survey we hope to provide more environmental activities.

“Basically, the day camp will be healthy, athletic and educational.”

And don’t forget artistic. One day the kids will take colored yarn, divide into teams and create a giant picture on the football field (yarn adheres well to grass).

“We’ll see what the kids come up with. There’s no rules, just the idea of creating a sense of wonder and teamwork,” Pierce added. One day the camp will head to the woods, another to the beach.

Pierce, a K-8 teacher, believes firmly that children like to learn — it’s up to adults to show the way. And they like to show off, one reason for the talent show scheduled in July.

“Our entire emphasis is to keep them outdoors, exploring the world, active and engaged,” Burke said.

“None of our activities involves kids sitting with video game controllers, staring at a screen,” he added.

For information on any of these programs, call 221-5484 or visit www.swparks.org.

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