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Kids + summer = fun

A parents' guide to entertainment and enrichment

By ERIK STEIGHNER

News Staff Writer

School hasn't been out for more than a few days, and most kids are content to lounge around and catch up on sleep and important television programming.

It won't be too long, though, before the restless pacing of little feet begins to drive some parents up the wall.

With that in mind, the Hood River News presents a guide to selected activities that will keep both young and old occupied during the summer months.

COMMUNITY EDUCATION

A tried-and-true source of summer entertainment and enrichment lies in the classes available through Hood River County Community Education.

The 40-page spring/summer Community Ed catalog bulges with classes and activities ranging from "A Table of Goo" to a weeklong cruise from Seattle to Alaska.

"We have so many opportunities for kids -- it's really crazy!" said director Mike Schend. "When I was a kid, we never had things like that. It was just summer baseball or having to go find fun on your own."

According to Schend, about 60 percent of this summer's programs are brand new, though the instruction is high-calibur as ever.

"Often, it's not the classes so much as the really spectacular people teaching them," said Schend. "Many are professionals who put out fantastic stuff with the kids."

Schend highlighted "Captain Connor Camp," a day camp experience which takes place aboard the 65-foot Captain Connor, a restored wooden tug boat. Children ages 11-15 will spend a day on the Columbia acting as the crew of the vessel, while studying the river and nearby wildlife, charting a course, listening to Native American storytelling, and many other activities.

More practical is behind-the-wheel driver's education, which runs between June 18 and July 21. In six days the student receives 12 hour of instruction -- half in the classroom, half at the wheel. Schend noted that enrollment has dropped in recent summers, and encouraged teens to sign up.

Children also have the opportunity to make a 4 by 8 foot mural with local artist Janet Essley, for display in the community.

"She is one of the finest mural artists in the nation, and she happens to live here," said Schend. "When you look at what the kids can produce in one week, you'd think it was impossible because of the detail."

On July 28-29 a trip to Seattle to see the Mariners play the Minnesota Twins will be combined with a trip to Wild Waves, the Northwest's largest water amusement park. The trip is open to students in grades 3-10.

Community Ed also offers a host of sports activities for adults and children, along with a bevy of classes in art, photography, cooking, crafts, karate, skateboarding, sculpture, drama and other areas. The ever-popular children's day camps are offered too, and filling fast.

Looking beyond the summer, Schend issued a reminder to parents to sign their children up for the Prime Time after-school program offered at each of the elementary schools in the fall. Children remain in the safety of the school and play games, work on homework and have nutritious snacks until they are taken home.

"Parents should jump on it and sign up now -- I wouldn't wait until August," said Schend.

For more information on classes, times and fees call 386-2055 or visit:

www.hrcommunityed.org

LIBRARIES

Libraries throughout the county provide a fun and thrifty way to jump-start sluggish summer minds.

At the Hood River County Library, Storytime with children's librarian Jayne Guidinger happens Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

"The audience is getting younger," said Guidinger. "We start losing kids to preschool and daycare, so we gear towards two- to four-year-olds."

During Storytime Guidinger reads to her rapt audience, pausing between books to lead songs, finger plays and other activities.

Last week, around eight adults and 12 children showed up for Storytime. One boy proudly displayed a necklace he had made, and Guidinger started the group off with a finger play. She then began to read a book called "The Sun is My Favorite Star."

"The sun is a great big gigantic star," she said.

"Yeah, it's really big!" came a chorus of enthusiastic replies.

After Storytime was over, children milled around playing with library toys and checking out books. They also picked out books on tape, acquired last year through a grant.

The library's summer reading program, "Read a Wild Tale," also promises entertaining events aimed at kids ages 4-10.

At 2 p.m. on Fridays, the library hosts visitors like magician and comedian Angel Ocasio (next Friday), a henna artist, a juggler, a ventriloquist and others.

"A lot of programs around the state don't have money for programs like that," said Guidinger. "We're lucky to have the budget that we do."

Children can register at any time for the summer reading program and set reading goals for themselves, based on either books read or minutes per day spent reading. When children are halfway to their goal, they receive coupons for a free hamburger at McDonalds and pool pass for one day at the Aquatics Center. When they reach their goal, they can choose a free paperback.

For more information on library programs around the county, call the Hood River County Library at 386-2535, or visit the library website at:

community.gorge.net/libraries/hoodriver/

PARKS AND RECREATION

Parents looking to throw their children a spash-happy celebration need look no further than the Hood River Aquatics Center.

"We're working on birthday party packages where you can swim and use the party room, and have cake and other good stuff," said Lori Stirn, director of Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation. "We should have that option available in a couple weeks."

Swimming lessons, both group and private, are available Monday through Friday at the pool. Group lessons range from Minnows I, in which parents help their child of two years or under feel at home in the water, to levels 6-7, involving advanced skills like flip turns and surface dives.

The Aquatics Center also offers water polo Sundays from 10-11:30 a.m. Scrimmages cost $3, which includes all equipment and instruction, and are open to all ages and abilities.

Also available are assorted activities such as water aerobics, use of the therapy pool, adult swim clinics and lifeguarding/Water Safety Instructor courses.

Openings are still available, though filling rapidly, in the Youth Windsurfing program, open to youths ages 10-18. Classes begin June 18 and run through Aug. 20, with special adult classes from June 18-28. Activities are held at the Hook on Mondays and Thursdays with no-wind make-up days on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon and again from 1-4 p.m. Adult classes will be held from 4-7:30 p.m. Cost is $40 for a 12-hour session, and participants must have a swimming proficiency of Red Cross Level four and show proof of course completion or complete a free swim skills test at the pool.

For more information, contact Parks and Recreation at 386-1303, or visit them on the web at:

w3.gorge.net/parksandrec

MUSEUMS

Hood River County Historical Museum: Parents looking for a educational place to take their kids without incurring groans of despair should consider a visit to the Hood River County Historical Museum.

The facility underwent a host of improvements during the last year, and visitors are in for a fresh experience. An 1,800-square-foot addition to the museum's Port Marina Park site allows the museum to showcase many items that had been stowed away due to space issues. One such exhibit covers the history of windsurfing since its genesis in the '60s, while others reach farther back in time, re-creating a turn-of-the-century bathroom and displaying items of interest from that period.

A Japanese quilt exhibit will be shown in June, followed by a photograph exhibit in July and August. Museum secretary Connie Nice admitted that the museum was short on summer programs this summer, due to the distractions of expansion.

"Next summer, we want to involve kids on a weekly basis with skits, plays and puppet shows," Nice said. "We're thinking of getting some high schoolers to do a storytime program."

Nice did point to a new picnic area and gift shop featuring toys from the past -- clay marbles, string games, prairie dolls, mini china sets, button collecting kits and old Indian hoop games.

"We hope parents can use these toys to teach their children what kids of the past did for entertainment," said Nice.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. For more information, call 386-6772.

Hutson Museum: Located in downtown Parkdale is the Hutson Museum, housing a unique collection of exceptional rocks and minerals, Native American artifacts, pioneer tools and antique heavy equipment. The park-like museum grounds also hold the historic Ries-Thompson House, featuring displays of period furnishings. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

EXTENSION SERVICE

Oregon Outreach, a statewide program to increase the outreach of Oregon State University Extension to the Latino/Hispanic community, is coming to Hood River. The four-week program begins July 16 and is held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Children ages 11-15 can enjoy swimming, group and leadership activities, computer and English classes, and other events held at various community locations such as the District Office, the Aquatic Center and St. Mary's Catholic Church.

The cost of the program is only $1 for all four weeks. For more information, contact Rosa Maria Guevara-Ayala at 386-3343, ext. 28.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL

A summer vacation Bible school began June 10 at the Church of the Nazarene in Hood River. Called "Kingdom Quest," the program takes participants on a summer-long exploration of the "Armor of God." It includes games, crafts, snacks and a "Roman Cash-and-Carry" store, where kids can buy snacks with "Roman Bucks" they earn during the program.

Children ages 4 through fourth grade (including kids who will enter fifth grade in the fall) are invited to participate.

The program is held each Sunday beginning at 9:30 a.m. It runs through Aug. 26 and is free. Call 386-2606 for more information.

The Hood River Assembly of God vacation Bible school program, "Son Creek Junction," will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. every Wednesday night from July 18 through Aug. 29. Registration begins at 6:15 p.m.

All kids are invited to come and enjoy prizes, games, refreshments and snacks in both indoor and outdoor settings.

For more information, call 386-3656.

The Parkdale Community Church will hold a "Son Creek Junction" vacation Bible school program July 2-6 from 9 a.m. to noon. The classes will have a western theme as students mine for figurative gold in the Son Creek Junction town.

For more information call Karen DeHart at 352-6064 or the church at 352-7747.

The Parkdale Baptist Church will observe vacation Bible school June 18-22. Two summer missionaries from Texas will assist in the program, the theme of which is "Truth Trackers and the Secret of the Stone Tablets."

"Through the area of the Middle East, we will search for hidden treasures in the desert," said Pastor Bobby Beauchamp.

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with family night at 6:30 p.m. on June 22. All are welcome. For more information, call 352-6515.

(If other churches wish to inform readers about Vacation Bible School opportunities, call the Hood River News at 386-1234 and ask for Erik, or send an e-mail to hrnewsAeaglenewspaper.com.)

Think Safety

Now that school and the sun are out, young people are taking off for playgrounds, fields, park and other locations conducive to flying kites, climbing trees and playing ball.

Pacific Power doesn't have anything to do with the "kite-eating" trees made famous by Charlie Brown, but the electric utility has its own hazards to avoid when seeking outdoor fun.

"Electrical facilities -- overhead wires, poles, substations or ground-mounted transformers -- are not at all good places to play," said Gary LeMoine, Pacific Power's corporate safety director. "The danger is very real, and could be deadly."

With this in mind, LeMoine offered tips for a summer safe from electrical hazards:

Keep all kites away from overhead power lines. If a kite becomes tangled in electrical wires, make no attempt to remove it -- instead, call Pacific Power at (888) 221-7070.

Check trees for overhead wires running near or through limbs and branches before climbing. If lines are present, do not climb the tree for any reason.

Never climb a substation fence -- they protect people from a serious hazard. If a ball or other personal property lands inside a substation fence, contact Pacific Power.

Never poke, pry or climb ground-mounted transformers, which are usually encased in tan or green boxes. They're more than meets the eye, and become dangerous if tampered with.

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