Summertime makes most of us feel more alive — food just somehow tastes better when eaten outside, a daily dose of Vitamin D breathes health into our bodies and many of the year’s best memories are made on sunny vacations. But for parents, there’s tension once the school year is out to not just keep your little ones entertained — but to make spend quality family time as well. This sampling of family-friendly events, classes and camps (all close to home) are meant to help parents be proactive. Consider jotting down a plan, schedule a picnic downtown for a free concert, plan to attend a music festival, sign up for a drop-in art class or write in a Saturday hike at Sugarloaf Mountain so that the summertime goes by smoothly. Cheers to a happy summer!
FREE FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Now that the winter weather has finally gone, our area offers gorgeous hiking weather and trails. Sugarloaf Mountain is just 7 miles from Urbana, offering 15 miles of hiking trails with numerous overlooks and picnic areas. Maintained by Stronghold, Inc., a nonprofit set up in the 1940s, hiking is free of charge.
Less than 20 miles from Urbana, family-owned South Mountain Creamery offers free calf feedings every day. With the help of a staff member, participants can assist with bottle-feeding calves at 4 p.m. each afternoon.
“In the summer, the calf barn will be packed — 50 people showed up yesterday,” said Anastasia Gaines, events specialist at South Mountain Creamery, adding that participants should arrive early. After the feeding, families can enjoy walks around the farm, as well as a tasty treat — scoops of freshly made ice cream or a milkshake at Karen’s Kountry Store. The tasty ice cream is made on site with their all-natural, farm-fresh milk. Shop hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
This month, South Mountain Creamery hosts its 14th Annual South Mountain Creamery Spring Festival from May 2-3. Free admission includes hay rides, food samples from vendors, live music (South Mountain Creamery owner Randy Sowers is even slated to get up on stage for a few numbers), kids activities and production tours.
“Festivals are the only two times you can see inside of our production facility — see where milk is made, yogurt machine, where everything is bottle and where ice cream is made,” Gaines said. The Spring Festival is held on Saturday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 3, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on South Mountain Creamery (they deliver fresh dairy products to 10,000 customers in three states) call 301.371.8565 or visit www.southmountaincreamery.com.
Downtown Frederick offers live, family entertainment throughout the summer. Beginning at 10 a.m. on May 2, 20 chalk contestants will be lighting up the sidewalk and judged at noon based on their skills as part of Mayfest. A jump rope team will be performing, downtown merchants will be giving out seed packets and flowers and live music will hit the streets. The 22nd Annual Frederick Festival of the Arts — June 6-7 — brings art from more than 110 artists displayed up and down Carroll Creek, as well as children’s activities like boating on the creek, drop-in art classes, dancing and more. Event is free; more information at www.frederickartscouncil.org.
Every Tuesday from June 16-August 18, a free concert series — Levitt AMP Frederick Music Series — launches at the Carroll Creek Park Amphitheater. On July 21, Danny and the Red Pants Band provides musical entertainment for the whole family. All concerts are open to the public, are family and dog friendly and begin at 7 p.m. Families are welcome to bring picnics. For more information, go to www.concerts.levittamp.org/frederick. Also, more information at www.downtownfrederick.org.
For seven summers, Manda Mackintosh, who lives near Sugarloaf Mountain, has fascinated groups of Urbana children with her art camps all summer long. She launched Urbana Art and Soul Studio in summertime 2009, teaching classes in paint, clay and other mediums — each week has a new theme.
“I have always loved the arts, even as a child. I taught art for FCPS for six years and decided to open my own studio to create a flexible schedule for my own growing family,” Mackintosh said.
Classes take place in her sunny art studio on Route 355, next door to Long Fence in the Dustin Building. This summer, half (12:30-3:30 p.m.) and full day (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.) camps are scheduled. New this year — Macintosh is launching a week for middle/high school age students where they will craft large canvas works of art. Also there will be special evening workshops announced throughout the summer, fun drop in classes for all ages. Camps run June 22 through the week of August 10. Camps and classes for ages pre-K through high school.
Mackintosh said she looks forward every summer to teaching new weekly art themes and seeing what the kids create. “Art has been proven to promote fine motor skill development, allows a non verbal means for communication, builds self esteem through self expression, and lets kids discover that there can be more than one solution to a problem by experimentation,” Mackintosh said.
For more information on Urbana Art and Soul, go to www.urbanaartandsoul.com, call 301.418.5458 or email email@example.com.
The Urbana Riding Club is owned by husband and wife duo Niqui and Tim Johnson. Located on Roderick Road, this summer marks the 25th year that Urbana Riding Club offers full-day summer activities through their camp called The Kids Club. Urbana Riding Club is well loved in the area for both year-round lessons and The Kids Club, which keeps kids physically active with daily horseback riding lessons, as well as swimming, mud and color runs, a giant slip and slide, archery, zip lines and more.
“It is unique that unlike a lot of other riding camps it also offers a lot of things like climbing walls,” said Niqui Johnson, adding that every hour participants move on to a new activity. “You can’t ride for six or seven hours a day so they get to do a huge variety in addition to the riding.”
New this year, Johnson said that ages 8 and up who have the skill set of being able to trot on horseback can join the Juniors Ultimate Riders Club, which allows participants to ride twice a day, rather than just once.
The Kids Club begins June 15 and runs for eight weeks; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For more information, call 301.874.2000, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.urbanaridingclub.com.
Urbana High School (UHS) hosts a number of sports camps this summer that are open to the public, including the 5th Annual Field Hockey Summer League from June 9 to July 9. Sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), UHS Head Field Hockey and UHS tennis Coach Andrea Stuart said a variety of teams from the area will compete in full field 11-on-11 play. In addition, the UHS Athletic Boosters present a Middle School Field Hockey Clinic on Wednesday evenings from June 10 to July 8, working on passing, dodging, defending, arials and shooting skills. The Boosters also present the 11th Annual Mid-Maryland Field Hockey Camp from July 20-23 for female athletes heading into grades 2 to 9. All camps and clinics held on UHS’ new athletic turf. For more information on the camps, contact email@example.com.
Just down the road from UHS at Mountain View Community Church, FCA also hosts a third summer of Power Camp. Power Camp is for ages 8-13 and includes football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball, volleyball, golf and cheerleading. “We teach them the skills they need in competition and the character they need to live for something greater than their win loss record,” said Frankie Hourigan, FCA Campus Ministry Director. “Our No. 1 goal is to coach the heart and soul of the athlete.”
Open to the public, ITC Tennis hosts Summer Tennis Camp and Spring Clinics in the Villages of Urbana. Spring Clinics start this month and span skill levels. Summer Tennis Camp runs from June 22 to August 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The lessons are held at the VOU tennis courts and sessions for all age and skill levels are available. Also starting this month on Saturday mornings, ITC Tennis offers Junior VOU Tennis lessons. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: This is just a sampling of camps offered in the area.