Round Table: Top 10 programs for learning and playing in the Gorge

Since I moved to the Gorge in early March, I’ve been blown away (no wind pun intended) by the vitality of Hood River’s community. The people here are full of energy and enthusiasm, especially when it comes to educational and recreational opportunities.

This spring and summer will be no exception. Coming soon is a tide of Community Education programs for all ages and interests, ranging from the toughest of sports and outdoor adventures to the finest of arts. Kudos to Hood River County School District and its local community education partners for building such a strong, diverse lineup.

Heads up, here are the Top 10 exciting community education and recreation programs coming your way.

  1. Rural Rampage Adventure Bike Challenge

Teams of two will compete in an adventure race that combines physical fitness and problem solving skills. The challenge will take racers on an exhilarating ten-mile bike ride with five cheeky challenges to be completed along the way. Rampagers of all ages are welcome, however, each team must have at least one member over 16. Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams. The event is a fundraiser of Hood River Wrestling Club and Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute.

  1. Cascade Mountain School – MacGyver Camp (Grades 1-3, 4-6)

Unlock your inner genius. Like secret agent MacGyver, students will learn how to build things out of scraps, found objects and broken tools. Students will spend the day outside in the Trout Lake Valley, building forts, fires and rockets, as well as other cool, hands-on projects.

  1. Aaron Meyer – Classroom Music Project (Ages 8-14)

In this one of a kind program, children will learn how to make music from the ground up. Students will learn to write lyrics and produce/record their own music, which they will receive in MP3 form. Then, they will perform their own song alongside professional violinist and composer Aaron Meyer in the Families in the Park concert August 6 at Jackson Park.

Meyer will work with up to 25 students on the basics of music composition, artistic interpretation and recording technology. No previous musical experience necessary.

  1. Smith Rock Climbing Camp (Ages 11-18)

Climb the towers of volcanic ash, aspire to reach their spires. Beginning to advanced climbers are allowed to progress at their own comfort level in a safe, encouraging and “no pressure” environment. The camp’s philosophy is to emphasize personal safety through rope skills. Basics include: tying a figure eight knot, belaying and safety checks. Advanced skills include: rappelling, building anchors, lead climbing, multi-pitch climbing and charting a vertical course over boulders and rough earth.

  1. Columbia Center for the Arts – Skateboard Art (Ages 9-15)

Inviting shredders, skateboard lovers and art lovers who want to paint their own skateboard! Michelle Yamamoto will guide students through the composition and graphic design process, the transfer of their images onto the skateboard deck and bringing those designs to life in acrylic paint. A quality, Calfornia-made skateboard deck is included in tuition.

  1. Rock Band! Summer Camp

Future rockers, punks and metal heads, unite! Band members will come together to play two cover songs and write a song of their own. Each group will perform their songs in the newly finished Underground Music Station in the Union Building, downtown Hood River.

  1. Lego Physics (2nd, 3rdgrades and older)

Westside Elementary will become Lego Central throughout spring and summer. With instructor Diana Chenoweth, budding engineers and architects can experience hands-on science with Legos. There are four courses to choose from which range from basic structural integrity and wheel balance to sophisticated gears and pulleys.

The courses are a chance for students to enrich their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills at an early age, and of course have fun while they do it.

  1. Cascade Mountain School: Mt Hood Mountain to Mouth (High School Camp)

The ultimate science immersion course. On this intense 12-day adventure, students will conduct meaningful ecological research on Mt. Hood and through the Hood River Valley. The party will embark on a 3-day, 2-night backpacking trip on Mt. Hood, explore the Eliot Glacier and then take a white water rafting trip down the White Salmon River. Students can earn four high school credits if they complete the course.

  1. Summer Musical Theater Workshop – “Mulan” (Ages 2-5 and grades 5-11)

Hood River Middle School’s summer musical is Mulan, a thrilling work of Disney lore. The theater team is top-notch —and they’ll have your back. Choreographer Teddy Meyer will challenge you in the dance and you’ll love every second. The theatre’s full sound system will ensures your lines and songs are heard. Eric Meyer paints a fun backdrop and builds amazing sets.

Later in the summer, the theater will also present “New Kids,” with the same great team, open to kids in grades 4-10.

  1. Columbia Gorge Racing Association: Learn to Sail (Ages 10+)

A true gem of The Gorge is its waterfront, an internationally renowned spot for water sports. The Columbia Gorge Racing Association has been hosting word class sailing events since 1996, and has been training sailors, from beginners to Olympians, since 2004.

The program earns first place on this list because it allows people of all ages and skill levels to take part in a legendary piece of the Gorge’s cultural identity.

The program includes beginner through advanced lessons and professionally coached sailing clinics. Learn at your own pace: sign up for one session or the whole summer. All classes are taught by U.S. Sailing certified instructors in the CRGA’s fleet. Participants under 10 must have a parent’s permission. Lessons will be held at both the Cascade Locks Marine Park and the Hood River Marina Basin.

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