If the recent run of dreary weather this spring has failed to tell you that summer is on the way, the calendar sure will.
It’s early May and time when parents start to come to grips with planning what their children will do to enjoy the warm, school-free days ahead.
One of the local organizations getting plenty of enquiries about that at this time of year is Richmond Youth Service Agency (RYSA), which runs a pair of camps through the summer months at Blundell and Cook elementary schools called the Connections Kids Club.
Together, they provide a cost-effective and true, mostly Richmond-based, experience for youngsters from K to Grade 7, said Jane Reed, RYSA’s coordinator of youth programs.
“I’ve had a big bunch of calls already,” said Reed, adding there are just 24 spaces available at Cook and 20 at Blundell, so parents need to decide soon because spots tend to fill up quickly.
Plus, since RYSA already runs two before and after school care programs, it first caters to those families for summer camp spots before registration is open to the rest of the public on May 15.
RYSA’s camps run for the entire, eight-weeks of summer holidays, provide a healthy snack in the afternoons and are packed with plenty of activities.
“We do arts and crafts, baking, bring guests in and have plenty of outdoor time, if the weather cooperates,” Reed said, adding that two days out of the week there are outings — using a dedicated school bus — to places where the children can try mini golf, bowling, enjoy a visit to Terra Nova Adventure Park playground and keep cool at local water parks.
“We also go to Centennial Beach (Tsawwassen), Science World and Queen Elizabeth Park. And depending on the group, if they enjoy swimming, they’ll go to South Arm Pool, Watermania or Splashdown Park (South Delta),” Reed said. “We listen to the kids for their input on what they like to do.”
Since the primary focus of activities stays within Richmond, Reed said it can create a positive, spin-off effect once the young summer campers return to the their families at the end of the day.
“A lot of the kids don’t really know much more than what’s outside their house, school and maybe their immediate neighbourhood,” Reed said, adding the exposure to more local attractions often leads to new activities on the weekends with their parents.
“They tell their parents, let’s do this. So, it can be beneficial for the entire family, too.”
The camp costs $125 a week and run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For an additional $75 a week, before and after school care can be provided, which stretches the day from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
All fees require $25 registration fee that is good for the entire year when enrolling in other RYSA programs.
For more information about the RYSA’s Connections Kids Club, visit online at RYSA.BC.ca and click on the Kids Connections button.