As children age out of day care and school lets out for the summer, what are busy, working parents to do? Fortunately, there are a number of options for parents to keep school-age children occupied, socialized and safe over the summer in Northern Michigan.
In Emmet County, some day care providers offer summer programs for elementary school-age children; the YMCA, in partnership with Emmet County Parks and Recreation, offers a summer camp at Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga between Petoskey and Wolverine; and Harbor Springs Public Schools has a Fun Fitness 4 Kidz summer program.
In Charlevoix County, options include a city-sponsored summer camp at Mount McSauba, various 4-H programs such as the swim school and sailing school in Boyne City and a junior golf program that makes stops around the county.
Some of the programs run just through the morning, some only in the afternoon, and a few last from morning until late afternoon or early evening.
For those looking for transportation for children within Charlevoix County, the green and white county buses can transport children as young as 4 with parent permission and a call ahead.
Parents can schedule their child for an entire week or month of rides with transit. It is suggested an appointment be made at least 24 hours ahead of time for rides. The cost is $1 each way for children 6-19 on rides less than 15 miles in each direction. It is $0.50 for children under 6. For rides more than 15 miles in one direction, the cost is doubled.
Watch Me Grow, a day care facility in Petoskey, is offering a series of two-week-long summer camps for children 5-12 years old for the first time this year beginning in June. The camps are 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., but children can stay earlier or later if necessary without any extra charge and can sign up for multiple sessions.
"It's definitely important to have your child doing something safe where they feel protected and are continuing to learn and have fun" after school lets out, said director Tami Walker.
Watch Me Grow is able to offer the new program this summer after beginning to lease the old YMCA building on Howard Street. That's where the camps will be held.
Paula Beyer runs a small, home day care facility in Petoskey. She says she is already full for the summer, but has children as old as 14 stay with her while their parents are at work in the summer.
She welcomes the pre-teens and young teenagers, she said, because "The older ones are a lot of help for me with the younger ones."
A long-standing summer activity for children in Emmet County is the Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga day camp. The camp, now in its ninth year, is open to children 6-14 and runs for 10 weeks through the summer, starting June 17. Sessions are 8:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended care options.
Campers can sign up for as many or few weeks as they like.
Financial aid is available and packages can be arranged for families with several children or those enrolling for the full summer.
Fun Fitness 4 Kidz is an active summer program for children sponsored by the public school district. The program allows children to choose their favorite activities to play throughout the day and offers daily field trip choices to the beach, SK8 Park, Kiwanis Park and community pool.
Parents can register and pay per day or per week and select which days during the summer their children attend. A full day runs from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The goal of the activities, according to the school district website, is to offer a program that supports emotional, intellectual, physical and social development.
The city of Charlevoix offers a day camp open to children ages 5-13 June 17-Aug. 16 at Mount McSauba. The camp runs 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with the option to stay overnight on most Thursdays and be picked up at 11:30 a.m. Friday.
Some weeks will fill up, said Amanda Wilkin, recreation director for Charlevoix, but generally there is availability all the way up until the camp starts. There are themes each week such as splash bash, messy madness, hula week or pirate week.
Often, the same kids come back week after week all summer, said Wilkin.
Another opportunity for children to get out of the house for several hours in the summer is the Charlevoix County Junior Golf program, based in Charlevoix. Instruction begins in morning or late morning and runs through the afternoon, with opportunities for children from beginner to advanced to play golf on several courses throughout the county.
The program accepts children between 8-17 years old.
Two major programs are offered for school-age children in Boyne City during the summer through 4-H, but neither are all day long.
The swim school, which is open to children 5 and older, meets at Whiting Park on Lake Charlevoix and has been a summer tradition in Boyne City for more than 50 years.
Half-day programs are offered 9 a.m.-noon or 12:30-3 p.m., June 24-Aug. 13.
A 4-H sailing program is also offered for children 8-19 years old in three week sessions in both Boyne City and Charlevoix. Classes are in Boyne City in June and in Charlevoix in July. Skills and knowledge emphasized at the sailing school include sail trim, rigging a sailboat, knot tying, teamwork building, boat safety, small boat handling, basic racing and good sportsmanship.
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Watch Me Grow: (231) 348-7650
Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga summer camp: (231) 348-8393
Fun Fitness 4 Kidz: (231) 526-4504
Camp McSauba: (231) 547-3253
Charlevoix County Junior Golf Program: (231) 547-6433
4-H Swim School: (231) 582-6232
4-H Sailing School: (231) 582-6232