Standing amid the lush landscape of Columbus Youth Camp this week for the first time, 8-year-old Abby Sanders acknowledged that the outdoors indeed rate as great.
On Tuesday, she and peers ages 5 to 12 built homemade shelters of branches and sticks.
“They looked like teepees,” Sanders said with an impish grin.
And she said it made for simple fun. Same goes for the rest of her weeklong day camp, “Summer of Exploration,” featuring what many other upcoming Youth Camp programs promise: swimming, canoeing, archery, hiking and more.
Foundation for Youth, which operates the camp, plus Columbus Parks and Recreation and other agencies still offer a variety of options for youngsters seeking a no-bummer summer.
The message to parents: Now still stands as a great time to get the young ones out and about, be it through a program of science or sports.
Or something else entirely.
Joanna Powers, Youth Camp’s assistant program director, believes most young children need little more than a nudge to find wonder in their summer.
“Some of them could possibly be a little more used to air-conditioning and playing video games than kids were maybe 15 years ago,” Powers said. “But when you teach them how to build a fire, they’re still totally into that.
“And I think that’s super cool.”
Katia Hatter, marketing and public relations coordinator for the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, said that many registrations for summer programs streamed in much earlier this year because of an earlier end to the school year after a mild winter.
“And I know that parents always tell us that they appreciate being given all the options possible,” Hatter said.
Those options range from aquatics to a doll program to golf. Costs for such vary from $30 to $105 per child.
“We do well especially with the specialized options,” Hatter said.
That includes American Girl Doll Fun, returning by popular demand, according to organizers. It helps youngsters ages 5 to 10 enjoy their toy figures amid games, crafts and acting. It will be offered at different times July 24 to 26. New offerings include gymnastics and tumbling camps for those ages 5 to 15 at various times next month.
Even with plenty of indoor choices, Youth Camp Director Todd Harris mentioned that his staff has seen maximum registration so far at the property west of Columbus. In a high-tech world, he sees kids getting wired on Mother Nature.
“I think,” Harris said, “that all that (computer interest) makes us a little more novel.”
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